New solution to an outback pest: put another camel on the barbie
Tuesday 19 April 2011
Overseas visitors to the outback are often delighted to see kangaroos hopping across the sunburnt plains. But what on earth, they wonder, are camels doing in the depths of the Australian interior?
During the 19th century, thousands of camels were imported into Australia, where they were used for long-distance exploration and to transport people and goods to remote spots. But when cars and trains took over in the 1920s, they were released into the wild and now they have reached plague proportions, with more than a million roaming the outback.
A culling programme began last year, but now an Egyptian businessman, Magdy El Ashram, has come up with an alternative solution. He wants to build a massive abattoir and processing plant, and to export camel meat to dinner tables around the world.
Such exports already take place on a small scale, but Mr El Ashram has grand plans. If his project for the rural town of Point Pirie, in South Australia, is approved, his aim is to develop the country's largest abattoir, capable of processing 100,000 animals a year.
"Camel is a popular food in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, and Australia has the resources to provide meat to people who like it," he told the Associated Press.
Camel meat is marketed as a low-fat, low-cholesterol alternative to beef. Exporters say there is demand for camel milk, leather and wool. Camel oil is used in soap and cosmetics, and even camel urine, apparently, has its fans; some manufacturers use it in hair and skin products. Live camels are also exported – even to countries assumed to be awash with them, such as Saudi Arabia.
In Australia, on the other hand, farmers regard camels as major pests.
They compete with native animals and livestock for food and water, trample native plants and damage fences, bores and tanks. At the height of the drought a few years ago, they rampaged through an isolated community in Western Australia, smashing toilets, taps and air conditioners in a frenzied effort to find water.
Their ancestors were more decorous creatures. Approximately 12,000 were imported, mainly from India and Pakistan, and they helped to open up the vast continent. Twenty-six accompanied the ill-fated expedition to cross Australia from north to south in 1859, led by Robert Burke and William Wills. Neither man returned alive, and nor did any of their camels.
As the continent was mapped and settled, camels were used to travel to far-flung cattle stations, Aboriginal missions and mining camps.
They were also employed in the construction of the Overland Telegraph line and of a railway across the desert – which was called the Ghan, after their handlers, believed to come from Afghanistan.
After being released into the wild, the camels established free-ranging herds in semi-arid areas and began to breed. Nearly a century on, they are said to be reproducing at a rate that doubles their numbers every nine years, and to be wreaking A$10m (£6.5m) of damage a year to fragile ecosystems.
Mr El Ashram said that, since wild camels fed largely on grasses, their meat could be considered a high-quality "organic" alternative.
He admitted that if the camel was old, the meat could be "a bit chewy". If approved, he said, his project would create up to 300 jobs.
- 1 Russell Brand accuses FOX News anchor Sean Hannity of terrorism after aggressive Israel-Gaza debate
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness – including don’t try to convert other people
- 3 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 4 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 5 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
Russell Brand accuses FOX News anchor Sean Hannity of terrorism after aggressive Israel-Gaza debate
Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness – including don’t try to convert other people
Sabina Altynbekova, the girl branded 'too good looking' for volleyball, says social media obsession with her is a 'bit much'
Justin Bieber posts Instagram photo of Orlando Bloom crying after Ibiza fight 'over Miranda Kerr'
Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
- < Previous
- Next >
£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...