Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Opinion: Geoffrey Clarke on the camel cull

British academic Geoffrey Clarke wants us to rethink the plan to cull feral camels from the air.

“I don’t have experience of Australia, unfortunately, but I do know that there must be a better way of corralling the

Geoffrey Clarke

Geoffrey Clarke

camels for commercial use,” he said.

“For example, it was suggested by one of your major cattle ranchers that funds earmarked for aboriginal development could be used to improve this scandalous eradication.”

According to his website, Mr Clarke:

  • Holds a masters degree in English literature
  • Is principal of a college of information technology and e-commerce
  • Spent a couple of years as a lecturer and TV presenter in Saudi Arabia.

You can read his statement here:

Humans v. Camels in the Outback

by Geoffrey Clarke

Following a disturbing portrayal on Al Jazeera television of the hunting of camels in the outback, I was somehow moved to approach the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Australia, and received a reasoned reply.

I was informed that these wonderful animals are >feral<.

The use of the term >feral camels< in this debate is abhorrent and displays a lack of humanity in assessing environmental and wildlife habitats.

I was told that they are killed to protect ‘the environment’.

The slaughter of these fine animals is justified by reference only in material terms, but never in ecological or sustainable wildlife terms. The fact that Australia’s partner camels are not original is spurious, since they have been part of her landscape for a couple of hundred years.

It was explained that it was government policy to kill these animals from the air, like innocent civilians in ‘collateral damage’.

The Project to cull camels in the outback might try to explain their commercial operation by reason of >culling< but what gives them – puny humans – the right to decide on the plenitude and rights of creatures on our planet. Look what happened to the bison population in North America and to many other species throughout the world.

I don’t have experience of Australia, unfortunately. but I do know that there must be a better way of corralling the camels for commercial use. For example, it was suggested by one of your major cattle ranchers that funds earmarked for aboriginal development could be used to improve this scandalous eradication.

The commercial exploitation of the animals would be far preferable, in my view, than killing wantonly and indiscriminately. There are camel abattoirs in the outback that could handle more live animals to the benefit of poor people rather than letting their carcasses rot in the desert.

Has a system of more advanced fencing been tried since it partly worked for the obviously smaller rabbit population? Have Qatari businessmen been approached for a commercial/ tourist/ sport approach to the solution of what is so disgustingly called >feral< camels?

I was assured by Elise Meakin of RSPCA Australia that the project gives high priority to the well being of the animals.

Any killing is hateful, but to claim that the programme gets “a very high standard of animal welfare” is crass, laughable and mundane.

Australians need to rethink this project on much larger grounds: please do the honourable thing; encourage camels for sport, racing, tourist attractions, or even for meat and hide. There are wealthy Qatari investors ready to invest in a more sustainable future for wildlife.

Please speak to your cattle ranchers and ask them why tens of thousands of cows and sheep are allowed to live and thrive but the noble, majestic, free ranging (not feral) camel has to be hunted down.

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