Eat a camel and save the planet, Australians are told

Not only is the meat low in fat, eating it could help to protect the fragile outback, in danger of being over-run by dromedaries

After trying to persuade Australians to eat kangaroo, emu and crocodile meat over the past few decades, the nation's agribusiness leaders have turned their attention to the ship of the desert.

Last week, senior public servants were served camel at a barbecue in Canberra as part of a campaign to convince the government to add the meat to Australia's bushtucker menu. Environmentalists say that camel burgers are not only better for you, but by eating them, Australians will also be doing their bit for climate change and conservation.

Camels, imported from the Canary Islands in 1840, have bred in such large numbers that the population is out of control. It is estimated that more than a million of the beasts now roam the outback, inflicting major damage on desert ecosystems, scarce water supplies and remote Aboriginal communities. As ruminants, with a tendency to expel greenhouse gases from both ends, the animals also add to global warming.

"We are very concerned that as the

climate changes and the continent dries out further, the camel impact will worsen as they throw more pressure on water resources," said Glenn Edwards, lead author of a new study from the Desert Knowledge Co-operative Research Centre. "Because camels are cautious animals and beautifully camouflaged, and because these areas are sparsely populated, most people are simply unaware of the sheer numbers of these pests – or the extent of the damage they are causing."

With the population growing at about 80,000 a year and the annual damage bill to farmers put at several million pounds,the government is being urged to order a cull. As many as 400,000 camels may have to be destroyed,the report concludes. "Our overall aim is to get the population density down to one camel for every 10 square kilometres eventually," Dr Edwards said. "This keeps the damage they can do within reasonable limits."

Murray McGregor, an agribusiness lecturer, believes that eating camel could provide the perfect solution. "It's beautiful meat," he said. "It's a bit like beef – it's as lean as lean, and it's an excellent health food." But if past experience is anything to go by, Australians may prove unwilling to toss a camel steak on the barbie. Previous attempts to market kangaroo have failed to excite domestic appetites, partly because of a natural reluctance to eat the national emblem.

While the camel may not have the same symbolic importance, it has played a significant role in Australian history. Under the care of Afghans, the one-hump Camelus dromedarius made a substantial contribution to the development of the outback. By 1901 there were an estimated 6,000 working camels in Australia, and they were still being used as recently as the 1950s. But as they were replaced by trains and motor vehicles, camels were allowed to run wild. Half a century later, Australia is counting the cost.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory