Australia is currently investigating the potential for development of a
viable & sustainable livestock industry using existing herds of
feral camels. This is a joint project currently being undertaken with
the Northern Territory & Queensland Departments of Primary Industry
in conjunction with the Central Australian Camel Industry Association
and the Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation.
In 1993, an aerial survey of central Australia indicated that the
wild camel population could be as high as 200, 000. It is estimated that
50% of this population is located within the remote pastoral or desert
regions of Western Australia.
In this state feral camels are declared vermin and constitute a
nuisance to pastoralists in the Pilbara and Kalgoorlie regions
through their destruction of fences and watering points. At
present they are periodically culled but no use is made of the carcase
apart from occasional use for pet meat. Feral camels have in the past
been mustered for export overseas or use in the tourism industry.
of camel meat began in Alice Springs during 1988 but kills have also
been undertaken at abattoirs in both Queensland and South Australia.
Peterborough Abattoir in South Australia now regularly processes camels
for the Central Australian Camel Industry Association. Studies
previously undertaken indicate that there is potential to develop both
domestic and export markets based on camel meat and live animals.
The meat is lean and has received the National Heart
Foundation's tick of approval whilst retaining excellent flavour and
cooking qualities. Coles and Woolworths have recognised the value of
camel meat as a saleable product and currently market various fresh and
frozen lines within their stores in other states. Recent changes to
health regulations now allow camel meat and milk to be sold for
human consumption in Western Australia. It is hoped that these food
products will also be marketed within this state in the near future.
This pilot project aims to investigate the economic and ecological
benefits of harvesting feral camels for collection at strategic points
for commercial slaughter or sale of live animals. It is planned that
this will be undertaken in three stages;
- Calculate the present value of the industry to pet meat shooters
and tourist operators together with the cost to the pastoral industry
through damage caused by camels.
- Identify the degree of interest within Western Australia in
developing a sustainable use of feral camels. Define the
infrastructure required for the harvesting of feral camels and the
expected returns or benefits to pastoralists.
Agriculture Western Australia is currently
seeking feedback from pastoralists and industry groups. A property
questionnaire was sent out to most stations during April. So far the
response to this survey has been excellent, however any persons who have
not been contacted or would like to have input into the project should
contact Kevin Ellard at the Albany District Office on 08 9892 8444 (bh),
08 9844 8310 (ah) or 08 9841 2707 (fax), or their closest regional
- Form a 'Camel Industry Steering Committee' consisting of
industry representatives to foster the development of the industry in