By ERWIN CHLANDA
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: