Sunday, August 9, 2009

Australians are being urged to Eat Camels to help solve the population explosion

SYDNEY — There seems to be a high demand for camel meat internationally, and that may prove helpful cutting down the population of these havoc-wreaking creatures.
They compete with sheep and cattle for food, trample vegetation and invade remote settlements in search of water, scaring residents as they tear apart bathrooms and rip up water pipes.
Last month, the federal government set aside 19 million Australian dollars ($16 million) for a program to help slash the population. Besides sending in sharpshooters in helicopters and on foot, officials are considering proposals to turn some of the creatures into tasty treats such as camel burgers.
One solution is the camels could be captured and sold overseas, used in tourism and processed for their meat. In recent years, there has seen an explosion in international demand for the animals.
The main problem with trying to capture and export the animals is that they can grow up to 7 feet tall and weigh 2,000 pounds, said Patrick Medway, president of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia.
Tony Peacock, CEO of the University of Canberra's Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Center, said "To be shot from a helicopter is actually quite humane, even though that sounds brutal," he said. "If I was a camel, I'd prefer to just get it in the head."

There is an integrated approach perhaps that would include shooting some of the animals for their meat, with others left behind to decompose.

Many are urging Australians to eat the camel meat instead of just killing them.

At the Centralian Gold abattoir outside Alice Springs, business is brisk.
Garry Dann, who owns the business, describes camel meat as "beautiful, healthy and organic" and says demand for the product is growing every month. Mr Dann, who sells camel sausages, mince and steaks to restaurants across Australia, is at the forefront of a movement that wants to turn a "camel plague" in the outback into a lucrative and environmentally sustainable industry.
The situation is expected to get worse, with the camel population predicted to double every eight to 10 years unless action is taken.
Instead of killing thousands of the animals and leaving their carcases to rot, Mr Dann believes that the country's most menacing pests can be harnessed into a viable business.
How about, camel pies are or camel meat sold by butchers.

"I know blokes who all their lives have meat for breakfast, lunch and tea, and they wouldn't know the difference between camel meat and beef," said Mr Dann.
"Camels are a good source of low cholesterol protein," he said.