Wild Camels Pose a Threat to Australia

 

Australia is not only famous for its unique animal species, like kangaroos, wallabies and koalas but it is also home to the biggest herd of wild camels found on earth. However, in the past years, over 700 000 camels that roam the Australian outback have been causing a major problem.

Camels were brought to Australia from the Arabian Peninsula, India and Afghanistan during the 19th century. During the colonization of the continent they were used to carry heavy loads and work in remote places.  When motor vehicles arrived at the beginning of the 20th century the camels were not needed any more and many of them were turned loose.

Today, the camels are causing many problems to farmers and other Australian animals.  They can drink up to 50 gallons of water in a matter of minutes. Waterholes in the Australian outback dry up rapidly. They also damage property, run over fences and break pumps. Camels endanger the habitat of other species by destroying trees and eating up leaves and grass.

Herd of wild camels in Australia

Camels in Australia - Australian Broadcasting Corporation


Only as recently as a few years ago, the Australian government estimated that there were about a million wild camels that roam around a third of the country.  The inner parts of the continent are arid regions which are ideal for the mostly one-humped dromedaries.

In 2010 the government started a campaign to reduce the number of camels in the country.  Thousands have been culled and a large number captured and sold as riding animals or for their meat. Although many farmers do not think getting rid of the pests in such a way is the right thing to do they are often left with no other choice than to shoot the animals.  Thus, their population has been reduced by about a fourth.

Over the decades humans have brought many other animal species to Australia including rabbits, foxes, horses and goats. In most cases Australians have been able to deal with them and successfully control their population. As a result they have not done so much harm to other species.

 

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Words

  • although = while
  • campaign = action, movement
  • capture = catch
  • carry = hold, lift
  • cause = lead to
  • century = a hundred years
  • choice = option, alternative
  • cull = to kill some animals of a group , especially the weaker ones, so that their number does not increase too much
  • damage = destroy
  • deal with = handle , control
  • decade = ten years
  • dromedary = camel with one hump on its back
  • endanger = put in danger, do harm to
  • estimate = guess, try to judge the size or amount of something without knowing it exactly
  • gallon = about 4 liters
  • get rid of = do away with something
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • habitat = the living area of animals
  • harm = danger
  • herd = group of animals of one kind that live together
  • however = but
  • humans = people
  • including = also
  • load = the weight that is carried by a person or an animal
  • major = big
  • motor vehicle = car, lorry, truck etc..
  • outback = the dry, inner part of Australia where very few people live
  • peninsula = piece of land with water around three sides
  • pest =  animal or insect that destroys other crops or plants
  • property = land, houses and buildings
  • rapidly = fast
  • recently = a short time ago
  • reduce = lower
  • remote = faraway
  • roam = wander around freely
  • species = group of animals or plants whose members are the same; they can  produce young animals or plants together
  • successfully = here: something that works
  • turn loose = set free
  • unique = only one of its kind
  • waterhole = small area of water in a dry country where wild animals drink