The 10DP recently provided support to the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands executive to carry out feral camel removal operations. Over six days in late January, more than 5,000 feral camels were humanly culled to reduce the damage that they were causing to cultural sites, the environment and the community infrastructure, and to address the distress the animals were experiencing due to lack of water. The decision to cull feral camels was made by the community as there were no other reasonable options available that would quickly reduce the damage being caused the feral camels.
Hot and dry conditions during 2019 reduced the available surface water across the APY Lands resulting in native species having to compete with feral camels to access remaining dams and springs. The trees and shrubs across the APY Lands have also been suffering damage from over-browsing by feral camels reducing the food sources available for native birds and mammals.
The APY executive worked closely with communities to determine the locations suitable for aerial operations and no-go zones. South Australian Department of Environment and Water staff were then engaged to conduct helicopter and culling operations.
The operation attracted substantial media attention. In response, APY general manager, Richard King explained the reality of living and working with an estimated 10,000 feral camels roaming across the APY Lands. “The population of non native feral camels has exploded in recent years and were causing significant damage to infrastructure and native vegetation, danger to families and communities, contamination to important water sources and cultural sites and increased grazing pressure in a time of extreme hear and drought”.
“As they search for water, weakened camels become stuck in remaining soaks and waterholes. When they die, the carcasses are a huge source of contamination, and foul the water for other animals and birds,” he said.
“We appreciate the concerns of animal rights activist, but there is significant misinformation about the realities of life for non native feral animals, in what is among the most arid and remote places on Earth,” he stated.
The 10DP will continue to work with our partners to maintain pressure on the feral camel population and reduce the damage caused to waterholes, springs and native vegetation.