Marksmen have begun the culling of camels and feral horses in South Australia since January 8. The marksmen are using helicopters and will shoot groups of camels and other feral animals over five a five-day period. The death sentence for the animals came after Aboriginal communities in the area complained about the damage caused by the thirsty animals who are searching for water.
The Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) area in South Australia is home to a number of indigenous groups. The sparsely populated area has been struggling with the water crisis which has caused the human-animal conflict. Residents of the area blamed the camels for causing damage to property, as herds broke into homes in search of water.
Locals are even worried about the safety of the people. The desperate animals can get aggressive when in contact with humans. They may causing life-threatening injuries, especially to children. APY Executive Board Member, Marita Baker, claimed that the camels were breaking fences and air-conditioners in search of water.
BBC pointed out that camels are not native to Australia. In the 19<sup>th century, the British settlers brought the animals from India, Afghanistan and the Middle East to help them get across the arid areas of the country.
A Department for Environment and Water spokesperson told CBS News that around 5,000-10,000 camels might be culled. The thirsty animals have flocked to all available water sources, cutting off the supply for people and other animals. At the same time, some of the animals have died near the water sources and contaminated them. Camels also emit large amounts of methane, which contribute to climate change.
The spokesperson pointed out that the number of animals being culled is only a small portion of the estimated camel population in Australia. The non-native species' population was estimated to be around a million strong in 2010 according to the National Federal Camel Management Plan. Since 2010, the numbers are predicted to have doubled.
While the Department for Environment and Water deems it important for the camels and horses to be culled in the drought-stricken area, many have objected to the plan. Around a billion animals are estimated to have died in the wildfires. The government choosing to kill more animals has drawn significant criticism.