SYDNEY: Helicopter-borne marksmen killed more than 5,000 camels in a five-day cull of feral herds that were threatening indigenous communities in drought-stricken areas of southern Australia, officials said Tuesday.
Aboriginal leaders in South Australia state said extremely large herds of the non-native camels had been driven towards rural communities by drought and extreme heat, threatening scarce food and drinking water, damaging infrastructure, and creating a dangerous hazard for drivers.
The cull in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands home to about 2,300 indigenous people in the arid northwest of South Australia ended on Sunday, said APY general manager Richard King.
"We appreciate the concerns of animal rights activists, but there is significant misinformation about the realities of life for non-native feral animals, in what is among the most arid and remote places on Earth," King said in a statement on Tuesday.
"As custodians of the land, we need to deal with an introduced pest in a way that protects valuable water supplies for communities and puts the lives of everyone, including our young children, the elderly, and native flora and fauna first." King said weakened camels frequently became stuck and died in water holes, contaminating water sources needed by locals and native animals and birds.