Australia’s Imported Pests: Cane Toads, Rabbits, Fire Ants and…

As many of you know, I live in the western suburbs of Brisbane. It’s a small community, I’d call it semi-rural, and not that much happens here. There is no cinema, no pub and not many shops.

But we do have a few churches and two of them got together to put on a nativity play out in the fields on Sunday evening.

As well as the nativity play, there were Carols by Candlelight and my daughter, Elizabeth, helped out with the singing, being as she is a member of her school choir.

The Nativity Play.

Was just like any other really; there was Jesus, Mary, a stable, a donkey, that sort of thing. Although there was also an alpaca involved; I don’t remember one being there in the original story.

nativity playAnyway, then the three wise men turned up. Now in the Bible, there is no mention of their mode of transport, although it is widely assumed they were on camels.

No half measures here in our sleepy little community…..

3 wise menYep, real camels!

3 wise camelsDid your nativity play have real camels?

Australia’s camels.

Probably not. The thing is, Australia has lots of camels.

Camels were imported into this country in the 1800s as a form of transport. They are now an ecological pest along with other imports like the cane toad, rabbits and fire ants.

Where did it go wrong?

When the car and the train were invented and became the preferred method of transport, sometime around 1930, many camels were shown the bush and told to have a wander.

They have been doing that ever since and doubling in population about every 10 years or so. Right now, there could be as many as 1 million wild camels in Australia.

Australia, without doubt, has the largest population of feral camels in the whole world.

They are a big drain on resources, especially those needed by farmers. They eat lots of vegetation and a dehydrated camel can drink 200 litres of water in 3 minutes! And, as they have no natural predators, these camels can live until they are about 40 or 50 years old.

So camels are a serious problem here in Australia, maybe we should consider importing lions and tigers?

No, that would be stupid!

But camel control is now on the agenda and some culling has begun. Not much, but I do know about 5,000 or so were shot from helicopters around Uluru.

Maybe one of the ones I photographed…..

Wild Camels in Central AustraliaBut rest assured, the three camels that delivered the three wise men at our local church nativity play are safe; there is no bullet with their name on it.

That is because they are domesticated camels; they are gainfully employed camels; they are actors; they are not a drain on our society, they contribute; they give us their art. Whilst I sympathise with all the feral camels, the message is clear.

Get a job!

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