By Bianca M. Caraza, Global Animal
Last week, Time Magazine’s Krista Mahr wrote an article on Australia’s problems with the feral camel. Not actually native to Australia, camels were brought in from India by the droves in 1840 and made themselves quite useful until the dawn of the automobile. Once Australians realized there was no longer any need for the camels, they released the cloven animals into the hot, dusty outback. Of course, the camels reproduced until they reached magnificent numbers which recently passed the million marker. Now, after a century and a half, Australians have found what some are calling an “innovative solution” to the unwanted species.
Due to camels’ poor digestive systems, which end up releasing about one fourth of the methane of a standard car per year, the Australian company Northwest Carbon has suggested a policy that would award carbon credits in exchange for each dead camel. Much like an overseer offering pennies for decapitated gophers, this would put a hefty price on every camel’s head.
While this so-called solution is, in fact, very imaginative, one can’t help but wonder if it’s right. Though none of Australia’s current natives were around to import the camels in 1840 and few probably released the camels into the wild once cars became commonplace, don’t they still, as Australians, have a duty to the species? Mahr first stated that the camels were an invasive species, breaking off air conditioning units in search of water and chomping down on private gardens. But later in the article, she quoted Murray McGregor of the Australia’s Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre on saying that “Camels aren’t in our backyards; they’re not in people’s faces all the time like rabbits and foxes and cane toads.” One can’t be sure what exactly camels are doing to be invasive if they’re not very close to humans at all.
This proposed mass slaughter of camels does, however, seem to be under the banner of the greater good. Reducing carbon emissions will help reduce the effects of global warming. It does seem curious, however, that in all our cleverness, humans would have to resort to violence against nature in order to restore it.
Following Northwest Carbon’s logic, should we not also have bounty hunters round up those humans with the biggest carbon footprints, the CEOs and presidents of companies with the largest emissions, flying around on private jets, and shoot them on the spot? Of course not. Human lives, just like those of even the peskiest, most ill-tempered camel, are invaluable. Why is the solution always to kill animals, from elephants to wolves, that we deem pests?
Instead of killing camels and attempting to find a market for their meat (which isn’t going well, to say the least), couldn’t the Australian government pair with Heifer International to round up the animals and ship them to a third world country where they’re needed? Could they not concentrate on human pursuits of carbon reduction and invest in a more effective public transportation system? Perhaps Australians could even participate in a monthly ride your camel to work day.
While some of these suggestions might be a tad silly, the point is that logical alternatives to Australia’s excess of feral camels as well as carbon emission do exist. The idea of slaughtering a species that could be put to much better use is wasteful and ultimately unhelpful. If humans simply take responsibility for their actions directly, and put their minds to it, a brighter solution can be found, even in the darkest of circumstances.
For Time’s Original Article: Australia: Killing Camels For Carbon Credits?