West Australia began 2015 in a dry spell. Natives reported hundreds of wild animals began to come in from the desert in search of water. Station manger Patrick Hill, told ABC a stampede of 200 Feral Camels destroyed the main infrastructure water station, near Laverton.
The last 12 months have been dry and as November, December, and January came along, the months became dryer. Hill was surprised to see the Feral animals, and believes the heat is what brought them out, which put a lot of pressure on the water station. Usually 10-20 camels come inland, but the stampede of camels that came in did not look to well. Hill said their hair was falling off, and they looked like a bag of bones, as if they have been running out of food as well as water.
After the unusual stampede, pastoralists from across the region met to discuss the cause of the feral animals to come inland, and how can they prevent it from happening again. The rapid discussion led them to come up with one idea, to deal with the massive crowd of Feral camels from an aerial angle of a helicopter. Hill told reporters the idea the group came up with was good, but he does not think gathering the camels would keep them away, since it is a large number of them. Hill also believes figuring out how to reduce the camels should not be a decision only handled by the pastoralists, on account they came from crown land.
Other solutions pastoralist came up with, to stop Feral camels from destroying the water systems, were to kill them on site and use their caucus for pests, transport them off to meat markets, or send them to Chris O Hora’s Calamunnda Camel Farm, for milk production. The farm has been in the camel service for 25 years, the company thinks camels are great animals and resourceful. Though many pastoralists had different ways to deal with the Feral Camels, O’ Hora’s idea appeared to be more profitable than killing the camels.
In an interview O’ Hora told the reporter, when he went to the pastoralists discussion his only intention was to win them over in a profitable market, and to meet all of them, so he can share what he has been doing on his camel farm for years. The decision amongst the pastoralists had to be made quick, because more camels began to come into the region, and destroy more properties such as fences, windmills, troughs, and water tanks.
The drier the season, the more camels began to come inland, but as soon as rain fell the Feral Camels were headed back to the desert. Now that the camels are back in the desert, Hill, Hora, locals, and pastoralist are currently forming a strategy, that will collect and steer the camels in a direction towards the farm, instead of the town to prevent further damage to take place in the future. The only problem that continues to rise is the lack of tools they need to accomplish the task.
Feral Camels, will no longer destroy the water system in West Australia, despite the fact the citizens are lacking the tools. With enough people on board, they will be able to keep the Feral Camels away from the inland.
Opinion By Krystle Mitchell
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Photo By Sarah Murray – Creativecommons Flickr License