Save the earth, kill a camel

Australia is turning its cross-hairs on gassy camels

Save the earth, kill a camel

Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

A dead camel in Australia may soon pay off in carbon credits. Down under, where feral camels are running rampant in the rangelands and producing unholy amounts of methane, the government is proposing an official camel cull to help combat climate change. There are 1.2 million feral camels in Australia, and with few natural diseases and no natural predators, the population is expected to reach two million by 2020. One camel emits an estimated 45 kg of methane a year—the equivalent of a metric tonne of carbon dioxide. (In contrast, a passenger car emits about 5.2 metric tonnes annually.)

Under the proposed new regime, expected to become law this summer, accredited marksmen will be able to shoot the animals for carbon credits. “Potentially it has tremendous merit, because feral camels are a dreadful menace across the whole of arid Australia,” said Mark Dreyfus, Australia’s parliamentary secretary for climate change. Camels were first introduced to Australia in the late 1800s to work in the outback. Today, in the age of planes, trains and automobiles, the humped beast is just an exotic pest—albeit a gassy one.

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