Beginning on Monday, December 7, 2009, local central Australia government authorities embarked on a four day culling campaign of between 3,000 and 6,000 feral camels near the Docker River community of the Northern Territory.
In other words, Australia decided to “to hunt or kill [camels] as a means of population control” as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary. In this case, the camels will be shot down by helicopter marksmen.
After a protracted drought in the summer, a herd of 6,000 camels began to roam into the Docker River community, frightening the residents and destroying infrastructures as they invaded water mains and the airstrip.
The previous week, the Associated Foreign Press had reported that, due to the lack of significant rainfall, thousands of decaying wild camel carcasses who died in the drought-gripped area have polluted crucial waterholes and sacred sites.
In financial terms, the camels incurred over $14 million in damage to structural frameworks annually, including the harm the herds have inflicted on native species’ habitats, heritage sites and water supply.
When news of the scheduled cull reached the airwaves, however, many outraged individuals pointed to these recent camels deaths as justification for the camels’ survivalist actions.
Understandably, despite marksman Kim Schwartzkopff’s claim that the killing will be humane, the Australian government has been flooded by an outpouring of incensed protests from around the world.
Furthermore, fueling the international debate were rumors that Dock River locals have said that the number of camel invaders was closer to 600 rather than 6,000.
Nonetheless, the Australian government announced its intention to invest $19 million to cull the animals over three years back in July of 2009. In addition, the government also initiated a long-term camel action plan available to public consultation until January 2010.
According to ABC, the Central Land Council, representative to the indigenous people, has described the cull as “an emergency, stop-gap measure.”
While the Australian government banned media filming of the cull out of fear of public backlash, several outlets managed to acquire footage of the carnage.