15 Jan Frequently Asked Questions: Australia – Camels, Culling, Climate Change and Human Health
Camels and Culling
How do wild camels compare to other feral animals in Australia?
- Feral or wild camels – approximately 500,000 feral, wild or unmanaged camels roam Australia. It may seem like a lot but when put in perspective with the size of the continent and the number of other feral animals, it is insignificant.
- Feral pigs – approximately 27,000,000 just in Queensland alone – or over 50 times as many feral pigs as camels across all of Australia. Feral pigs eat sea turtle eggs off the beaches, leading to a massive reduction in sea turtles on the barrier reef. The results are more poisonous jelly fish as baby sea turtles eat these small highly poisonous jelly fish. Why cull camels and not feral pigs?
- Feral cats – over 68,000,000 estimated in Queensland alone – 136 times as many feral cats as camels. Feral cats eat 1-2 native animals every week. That’s 68 – 140 million native animals killed every week. Why aren’t we shooting feral cats?
- Feral horses and donkeys – approximately 2,400,000 feral horses + 2,300,000 feral donkeys.
- Feral cattle – approximately 1,500,000 feral cattle just in the National Parks.
- Feral goats – over 20,000,000 – now being semi-managed to sell as meat to overseas markets.
- Feral foxes, rabbits, hares, cane toads – all far more ecologically damaging than camels.
Culling gets headlines– what else should be done to benefit animals and humans?
- Provide water – Instead of finding a workable and commercially beneficial solution for all the animals, the approach of too many rural administrative boards and other regional rural community councils is to KILL the camels. The simple answer is put a water trough outside the communities where camels have entered desperate for a drink and allow ALL animals to have a drink. Why isn’t this being done?
- Stop opportunistic profiteering – State governments get pulled into politicising of the issue where interested parties are seeking to secure, usually exorbitant, funding to “Cull” (nice way of saying inhumanely KILL) the camels and then subcontract someone at a high cost to shoot them from the air – it is not easy to shoot from the air and most animals die slow painful deaths. The camel meat, hide and the rest go to waste.
- Consult with and invest in the Australian camel market – Many indigenous communities rely on Australia’s wild camels for income. They muster them and sell them into meat markets, mostly to sell into the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. Many of these communities are not directly consulted before others “above” decided to KILL the camels.
- “Instead of culling camels, Australia should look at how to support indigenous communities and commercial camel dairy farmers to better manage, benefit and profit from this invaluable resource. Ask us, we can help!” says Jeff Floods, CEO Summer Land Camels.
Why do wild camels seek water in settlements and other animals don`t?
- Australia is facing a severe drought and bush fires with below average rainfall for over two years in a row. Even though native flora and fauna have evolved to cope with extreme weather, this consistent lack of water has even more of an impact on our ecosystems, modified by settlements and European farming techniques, which often lead to over grazing by European animals.
- When droughts occur in central Australian areas all animals (native, feral and managed livestock) move to seek water and food.
- Camels remain healthy for far longer in these conditions as they can go longer with relative absence of food and water and can to walk further to find it, as these tough times require.
- When these animals smell water at indigenous and other remote rural settlements, they walk towards it. Camels are highly intelligent – and balance the risk from humans VS the reward of a drink of water – so they enter the communities in search of water. This can lead to damage to taps, pipes, hoses, air conditioners etc – all in the search for a drink. Cattle, horses, donkeys – other animals will not enter the community as they are more fearful of humans.
- Instead of killing camels, the simple answer is put a water trough outside these communities and allow ALL animals to have a drink. Why isn’t this being done?
Why are camels seen as pests in Australia VS valuable farm animals and livestock?
- Most European settlers had no connection, knowledge or appreciation of camels as livestock.
- Even today, when asked to make a list of farm animals, most people (and children) will list cattle, cheep, goats, horses, chickens, pigs etc – but not camels.
- For half the world’s population – from the Middle East to parts of Africa, South and Central Asia and beyond – camels are farm animals, essential for meat, wool, hide, milk and transport.
Why do camels get a bad rap?!
- Negative stories about camels were often propagated to government and media in the 1800’s by Ox cart drivers and others that were competing with the camel transporters.
- Cameleers or camel drivers came from the same countries as the camels. They were mostly dark-skinned people not just from Afghanistan but right across Africa, Middle East, Central Asia and Eastern Asia.
- Cameleers, like their animals, were often discriminated against and pushed out or settled into Indigenous Communities.
- Hence many of Australia’s indigenous communities have a deep knowledge and connection to the cameleers and camels.
- These historical views have been passed on for generations and camels in Australia continue to be discriminated against and it makes NO sense.
What is unique about the camels in Australia?
- The cross breeding of all the different genetic stock that came to Australia over the last 170 years has led to an extremely robust, deep gene pool that represents almost all breeds of camel that existed in the 1800’s.
- In other parts of the world camel numbers and breeds have rapidly declined with many breeds of camels lost forever – especially in the wild.
- Being isolated from the rest of the world the Australian national camel herd has emerged as free of the diseases that ravage other livestock overseas.
Camels and Climate Change
What are the risks and benefits?
- Australia is at the forefront of global climate change. Shooting camels is not a solution. What can individuals, communities and nations do to reduce the impact and catalysts of this change?
- Camels produce less methane – just four fifths of the methane of cattle and sheep.
- Feral camels only contribute 1-2% of total livestock methane emissions in Australia which is an extremely small amount of a small amount of 1.5% of the worlds emissions.
- If the climate is changing in the manner experts predict – then Australia’s camels are more important now than ever. They are tough, they survive in drought and pollute less.
- Australia`s camels produce one of the world’s best wools, fine leather many times better than cattle hide, extremely healthy meat (far healthier than beef, lamb etc) and milk with health giving properties – we are only just starting to understand.
- Camels are easy to handle and domesticate (we have perfected this technique). They love human interaction and perfectly suit the Australian ecosystem and don`t damage it. So why are we shooting camels again??
Camels and Human Health
What are the benefits of camel milk to humans?
- The rapidly growing body of global research and evidence on camel milk and the thousands of global case studies and understanding of traditional uses and benefits of camel milk, show that:
- Brain disorders – Autism, anxiety, depression, PTSD all seem to show some improvement when the sufferer consumes camel milk.
- Inflammatory bowel conditions – Consumption of camel milk appears to reduce severity of symptoms and in many cases appears to heal.
- Inflammatory skin conditions – Camel milk helps with eczema, psoriasis, and a multitude of other inflammatory skin conditions. We know this as we have thousands of customers who no longer have these conditions because of our award-winning camel milk skin care range.
- Auto-immune conditions – Many case studies and some research indicate that many auto-immune conditions improve or are resolved with camel milk.
- Diabetes I & II – The best research is on Diabetes. We know camel milk helps manage these conditions. Dosage, milk content, combined with diets and other factors need to be researched but the evidence is clear – Camel milk helps.
- Allergies – Many who suffer from allergies seem to have a reduction or complete loss of symptoms after three months or more of consuming camel milk.
- Few allergies to camel milk – No-one seems to have an allergic immune response to camel milk. There is NO beta-lactoglobulin and minimal lactose. Most people who are anaphylactic to milk can safely consumer camel milk.
- Like human breast milk – Camel milk is extremely close to the properties of human breast milk -our bodies are designed to consume it and our bodies love it.
- More research is needed to better understand benefits – We are still just scratching the surface of understanding camel milk and learning how we can utilise camel milk to assist those with challenging health conditions. Not enough time or money has been invested into researching camel milk to fully understand its role in helping people with their health conditions. We need more research.
More on Camels and Australia
What role to camels play in the history of Australia?
- Australia is the one nation in the world that should be eternally grateful to camels. Without camels our last 200 years of history would be very different.
- The telegraph line from Darwin to Adelaide that was so important during the resistance of the Japanese in WWII was only possible because of camel transport used in its construction.
- Without the Imperial Camel Corp established during in WWI in the Middle East by the Australian, New Zealand and British Forces, the Commonwealth forces would likely not have defeated the Ottoman Empire (Turks).
- Without camels and the cameleers to care and work with them until the 1930`s, many regions would have had limited to no access to transport, provisions and the outside world.
How were camels first introduced to Australia?
- Camels were an introduced species to Australia just like many other animals: cattle, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, chickens, ducks, geese, pigs, cats, dogs the list goes on.
- European settlers transported and introduced animals to Australia not because they would suit the environment and ecosystems, but to replicate what they had where they came from.
- Camels were the one animal introduced to Australia after much thought, planning and consideration as to which animal actually suited the Australian environment. Camels were brought to Australia because they perfectly suited the Australian environment.
- Between 1854 and 1915 around 12,000 – 20,000 camels were introduced into Australia from all over the world. Australia now has the richest most diverse genetic stock of any continent.
Why do camels adapt so well to Australia?
- Camels are perfectly suited to Australia.They have soft feet like indigenous Australian animals so their impact on the delicate and ancient ecosystems is less than hooved animals.
- They live – up to 50 years of age – longer in Australia than in many other countries
- They eat almost every noxious weed introduced to Australia by settlers. They prefer to eat browse and weed bushes (which other animals cannot eat) to grass e.g. they eat Prickly Pear down to the stalk and many land holders use camels to clean up paddocks of noxious weeds.
- They typically travel many kilometres every day as a group. This reduces the impact of grazing on ecosystems compared to other livestock.
- They can go 3-6 weeks without water and up to 8 weeks without food. This means they do not camp at waterholes. Most livestock will only travel short distances from water sources, so areas are often over grazed if animals can walk there or under grazed if they don`t.
- Camels are not worried about distance from water and can fully graze any paddock. This makes them the ideal animal in Australia for regenerative/sustainable grazing.
- The gut biome of camels is known to transfer to cattle, sheep and other livestock when they are co-grazed together to assist European animals digest Australian native and other grasses.
Do camels spit and are they bad tempered?!
- Camels don’t spit (they’re naughty cousins the alpacas spit).
- They’re not grumpy – they have been shown to have the problem-solving IQ of 6-8 year old human. They have personalities and form deep and lasting bonds with the people who care for them – like dogs and other animals or pets. Very different to livestock.
- They don’t “Stink” – in fact they smell less that other livestock.
- Camels are no more aggressive or dangerous than any other farm animal. When handled and treated with care they respond quickly and positively to humans.
Why should we care about camels in Australia?
- Camels are perfectly suited to Australia’s unique ecosystems.
- Many of Australia’s indigenous groups have deep connections with camels and their history and this is an invaluable resource.
- We should appreciate, and care for and respect camels as they played a very important and positive role in our history and should play a key farming and export role in our future.
- Climate change is challenging the way we think and operate. Camels produce less methane than other livestock, perfectly suit hotter/drier conditions and produce some of the world’s best milk, hide, wool and meat.
Summer Land Camels is owned and operated by The Australian Wild Camel Corporation (TAWCC). TAWCC purchased Summer Land Camel Farm in 2015. TAWCC operates the largest commercial Camel Dairy and Milk processing, Camel breeding and farming operation outside of the Middle East. The Australian Wild Camel Corporation was established to respond to the growing consumer demand for organic, high quality, safe, nutritious, dairy alternatives. Australian is geographically, climatically and ecologically ideal for Camels. Growing global demand for Camel Meat, milk and non-pharmaceutical Nutraceuticals. Growing demand for organic, quality products to treat immune and inflammatory conditions and to provide non-toxic skincare. Summer Land Camels is Australia’s largest and most awarded Camel Dairy.