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Australians keen to send camels to KSA

Beasts could be shipped from Oz to Saudi, saving them from being culled.

January 27, 2010 4:49 by

By Hassna’a Mokhtar

Australians have welcomed the proposal to send their wild camels to Saudi camel-lovers instead of shooting them. At the same time, they warned that the process of transferring the animals would be expensive.

Some Saudis have initiated an internet campaign calling for the transportation of Australian camels to the Kingdom. The initiative followed an announcement by the Australian government that it would use helicopters and marksmen to corral and kill 6,000 feral camels in a small northern town.

“The cull is unfortunate. We’re happy to put Saudis in touch with camel exporting companies in Australia. However, it’s very expensive to bring them to Saudi Arabia,” said Michael Kavanagh, counselor and senior trade commissioner of the Australian Embassy in the Kingdom.

In order to transport the camels, there are logistical problems to be considered such as the lack of roads, the vast desert distances and the large size and number of the animals. Kavanagh said his office in Australia was producing some figures on how much it would cost to transport the camels to Saudi Arabia.

“Australians don’t want to see camels die. We’re willing to look at available options,” he added.

In August 2009, the Guardian website polled readers about the camel cull and whether it was really necessary. This was done after animal welfare groups had criticized the idea; 51.3 percent of the people supported the cull saying it was the only effective solution while 48.7 percent said that there were better ways of managing the population.

According to the website, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Animals Australia said the cull would cause “terrible suffering” to the animals.

The problem began when camels caused chaos more than five months ago in the Northern Territory town of Docker River, smashing water tanks, destroying fences, coming up to houses and antagonizing people. Online readers and poll participants also proposed solutions on how to make use of the camels instead of killing them and some have welcomed the Saudi initiative to provide a home for the wild animals.

“Australian feral camels eat 80 percent of plant species in Australia-including many wild plants that Aborigines traditionally harvest for food. In times of drought when they are thirsty, they also destroy well taps, pumps, and toilets,” commented Peter, one of the poll’s participants. His idea of solving the problem was to sell the camel meat to Malaysia, “where camel is a delicacy.”

Robin Thomas, another commentator, was thankful that there were plans to save the animals from being culled by snipers on the ground and in the air.

“Madness! Why kill thousands of camels when there are those who would take them for sale, milk, and food or because they simply love them? I hope they are saved,” said Thomas.

James Frederick also shared his comments despite saying that camels and kangaroos were becoming the scourge of Australia. “I know because I have seen them first hand. There are hundreds of poor countries where people are starving for lack of food and protein. It’s better to ship the surplus animals to those countries,” said Frederick.

- First seen in Arab News.

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