July 5, 2011

Culling Camels For Carbon Credits Under Attack

Australian plans to kill feral camels that inhabit the wilderness on the grounds that their flatulence adds to global warming has come under attack by the word's association of camel scientists, reports the AFP news agency.

Northwest Carbon, a land and animal management consultancy proposed the killing of wild dromedaries in exchange for carbon credits.

Australia, which has one of the highest per-capita carbon dioxide levels in the world, is heavily reliant on coal-fired power and mining exports.

Australia's Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency published a paper suggesting the kill-a-camel campaign as part of a program to reduce the country's carbon footprint.

According to proponents of the cull, one camel produces about 1 ton of carbon dioxide a year.

The International Society of Camelid Research and Development (ISOCARD) argues that camels were being made culprits for a man-made problem, saying that the idea is "false and stupid"¦ a scientific aberration."

"We believe that the good-hearted people and innovating nation of Australia can come up with better and smarter solutions than eradicating camels in inhumane ways," an ISOCARD spokesperson told the AFP news agency.

Camels were introduced into the Australian Outback sometime in the 19th Century to help early settlers since camels were better suited to the hot and arid conditions.

Today, these animals are considered pests because of the damage they inflict on the vegetation; and with no natural predators the population has grown to about 1.2 million camels.

Northwest Carbon's plan of annihilation is to shoot the animals from helicopters or corral them before sending them off to an abattoir to be eaten by humans or pets.

"The estimation of methane emission by camels is based on cattle data extrapolation, said ISOCARD, an association of more than 300 researchers headquartered at al Ain University in the United Arab Emirates (UEA).

ISOCARD says the data is absurd, adding, "The metabolic efficiency of camel is higher than that of cattle, ("¦) camels are able to produce 20-percent more milk by eating 20-percent less food, they have different digestive system and are more efficient in the utilization of poor quality roughages."

Additionally, ISOCARD says that the bacterial flora of the camel's intestines means their digestion is closer to that of monogastric animals like pigs, not cattle and sheep.

"Therefore, the estimation of camel methane emission is quite debatable, as well as the estimated feral population."

ISOCARD says that the 28 million camels that populate the world represent less than one percent of all vegetation-eating biomass, and that their emissions of carbon dioxide are a tiny fraction of those made by cattle.

"The feral dromedary camels should be seen as an incomparable resource in arid environments," ISOCARD says. "They can and should be exploited for food (meat and milk), skin and hides, tourism etcetera."


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