Shooting, not selling feral camels


The BHP Foundation is donating $2m for professional shooters to cull camels on Aboriginal land whose residents are clearly making no effort to turn the feral beasts into an income earning venture.

The Central Land Council (CLC) announced last year that in Petermann and Haasts Bluff it had “recently completed feral camel control work.


“Over 1000 camels and other feral animals were removed in an area covering over 27,000 sq kms after consultation with traditional owners.

“The Indigenous land owners have been proactive in wanting to manage this problem on their lands as it deeply impacts on their natural and cultural assets,” said a CLC spokesman.
“We will continue to work collaboratively with the 10 Deserts Project and the Northern Territory government to continue this important control work.”
The traditional owners’ proactivity clearly did not include mustering and marketing the resource.

The 10 Deserts Project says it is “committed to supporting Indigenous organisations that want to manage feral camels on their country and we have allocated nearly $2m over the coming four years for control work”.


A CLC release says: “[The] 10 Deserts Project is led by Desert Support Services and aims to build the capacity of Indigenous groups to look after country for a range of economic, social, cultural and environmental outcomes.”

The Alice Springs News put questions including these to the land council: How many Aboriginal people are involved as workers in the project? How many camels have they caught and sold? How much money has that raised? Who were the buyers? How many camels have been culled?
The CLC replied: “The project was a cull and didn’t involve buying and selling.
“Our rangers and other staff provided on ground support while the culling was done by professional shooters.
“The $2m came from the BHP Foundation – for managing camels in the CLC region and beyond. Talk to them.
“Our latest annual report itemises the total numbers of camels we culled with funds from the 10 Deserts Projects on the Petermann and Haasts Bluff Aboriginal Land Trusts – 427 and 429 respectively,” said the CLC spokeswoman.
Selected references in the Alice Springs News:



  1. My question is why is the BHP Foundation funding this? Surely this should be funded by royalty money? Is there enough paid already by mining monies?
    When is enough enough?

  2. History repeats itself-again.
    Culling is not the answer as is demonstrated by the antics of Ninti 1 and the subsequent Senate Estimates meeting with then Senator Sean Edwards and green Senator Lee Brihanan (NSW).
    There were two contractors at least who were wanting to go in and harvest camels but were prevented from doing so by the “singing” Federal Minister at the time citing possible exploitation of Indigenous people as the reason.
    The powers that be once more ignored the obvious science of animal reproduction and the role of pheremones in their behaviour.
    I have been chased by a rampant bull, with frothing mouth, trying to seduce a group of females and with a prominent journo (Nicholas Rothwell), witnessed a group of several hundred camels gathered for the same purpose.
    Who needs helicopters?
    I have seen that twice now. It works for other invasive species as well.
    A friend made a small fortune harvesting foxes using their mating smells as a lure. Goats and pigs also respond well to their mating pheremones.
    This is so obvious to all who have heard howling mating dingos but ignored by politicians.
    Once again there is a lot of info online with the research being all done on the Indian sub continent when it should have been done here.
    Now according to the BBC, Somalia wants to repatriate all 10000 animals to their country, and China has removed so many donkeys from the top of Africa that the rural people there have difficulty transporting their food.
    Similarly with transporting large animals.
    A friend carts camels with a low loader with collapsable sides built to shift houses. The animals simply step onto it.
    A proposal was put to the major trading banks that they could support a mobile processing factory with the products used for disaster relief and Australian Aid.
    Only Macquarie Bank responded stating that it was not interested in anything not originating from its own office, although Malcom Fraser and Care Australia supported it. So much for banks’ stated policy of social responsibility.

  3. I suppose it stands to reason. If someone is paying a couple of million, why not take the easy, some might say lazy, way and just shoot them.
    Too much effort to actually try and turn one dollar into three by being being enterprising.
    Makes perfect sense when you consider all of the facts in this particular story.

  4. All these people out there crying they need job opportunities / meaningful employment.
    Well here is another chance that will slip by waving to them as it goes.
    So many opportunities which could have quite a healthy profit that could be used for so many good things in the communities.
    I can’t believe people actually have to fund this stuff. Would love to know why BHP is funding, just quietly. Even if it was just a cull and the meat was to go to waste, (which would be a real shame and loss of good income or good tucker for the communities).
    I am sure there are people out there who would pay good money to go on a guided hunt to shoot camels.
    Then again, why do anything if your being paid to sit down by the tax payer and cry poor me?

  5. Ah, the same old utopian dreams. If it was economic someone would be doing it.
    It is not!
    Reflect for just a minute on the costs associated with taking vehicles and equipment to remote trackless areas where the camels are.
    Then killing, butchering to health standards, refrigerating the meat, and getting it to market. It just don’t add up.

  6. The biggest problem is not transport etc. That can be overcome as it is already happening.
    And trackless? People can muster cattle on the APY lands. The camels are coming in for the water.
    I think the biggest issue is with the landholders.
    I know of the problems they were having with the donkey and horse musters.
    It could be very profitable now and that profit margin is only going to increase once the full effect of the drought and fires take their toll on the cattle and other meat industries which is going to take a very long time to recover – unfortunately! Problems are just opportunities for solutions.

  7. @ Chris Le Page: I agree with your comments. The logistics of mustering and transportation is a real issue. You would need to set up trap yards and have feed and water available and possibly cool rooms.
    You could then slaughter and dress or transport them live.
    None of this is insurmountable, it’s more a question of people’s drive and ambition. This would also include the work in having a pre arranged market for the meat.
    I believe there is already a market so the success of this business only boils down to the question, is there commitment? So is there?

  8. Surprised: Why should not BHP or any other mining company pay for the culling of these animals?
    Example: We were told by a Central Land Council lawyer to whom I gave [as an example] an amount of forty million dollars.
    Who benefits from the money? Her statement: 50% mining, government 40% and land councils 4%.
    I then asked what do us blackfellas get? 1% of the land council. She was sent on walkabout, just for her honesty.
    On land councils they do not want to see an Aboriginal go ahead in making a life for themselves in any business scheme.
    They dictate to our uneducated people and as soon as an educated man or woman enters the scene he or she becomes a danger to them.
    Camels: A local butcher many years ago wanted a mobile abattoir employing local Aborigines to slaughter and sell to overseas and Australian buyers.
    This leaves the land councils out and they stopped employment for Aboriginal people earning honest money.
    Stay on the dole where you [belong].
    The only time land councils deal with the wrong people is when they want the wrong information.

  9. The Central Land Council has a responsibility to look after the land and the people who live on the land.
    I can’t see any physical evidence how the organisation is improving living standards and the educating of them to advance into the next phase of life.
    Camels are a huge problem as they are out of control as are the donkeys and horses. It requires money, time and work ethic, something that Aboriginal people are running greatly short on.


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