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.

Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker
TV
Life and Style
Instagram daredevils get thousands of followers
techMeet the daredevil photographers redefining urban exploration with death-defying stunts
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'
TVDaughter says contestant was manipulated 'to boost ratings'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS2 Teacher required from October

£90 - £120 per annum: Randstad Education Hull: Key Stage 2 Supply Teacher requ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Computer Futures

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures (an SThree br...

Maths Teacher

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education require a ...

SEN Teacher - Hull

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are recruiting for spe...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor