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Camels go crazy as water supplies dry up
By Emma Gumbleton
December 18, 2006 12:00am
CAMELS are going mad with thirst in the Central Australian Outback.
As waterholes dry up, the feral animals are forced to leave the desert to search for water.
About 200 camels have set up camp in the middle of the remote Western Australian town of Warakurna, destroying air conditioners, toilets and taps. Similar attacks happen every year to stations near Alice Springs.
Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife scientist Glenn Edwards said the problem was getting worse as the drought persisted.
"The other thing happening at the same time is that the population is going up. We estimate the population is doubling every eight years," he said.
"When it's dry like it has been over the past three or four years and the weather gets very hot, they obviously come chasing water and that brings them on to pastoral leases and into remote communities where they get up to all sorts of mischief."
There are an estimated 1 million feral camels in Central Australia.
Mr Edwards is working with the Desert Knowledge Co-operative Research Centre to develop the first national camel management plan.
It's being driven by a stakeholder committee from the NT South Australia and Western Australia.
"Some people want to make money out of camels, particularly in remote indigenous communities, so that may be a management option in those areas," Mr Edwards said.
"But then there are parts where nobody lives where there's no other option but to shoot them.
"We know what the population is doing so we can take out animals to keep the population static or in fact reduce it."
A draft camel management plan should be finished by mid-2008.