As wildfires rage across Australia, as many as 10,000 camels may be shot and killed after complaints they are drinking too much water in Australia amid a drought.
Aboriginal officials in the southwestern region of South Australia Province said the camels are endangering locals who are trying to obtain water during drought conditions.
Officials in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands said they will now shoot and kill the animals, according to a bulletin posted on social media.
The officials said that “extremely large groups of camels and other feral animals… are putting pressure on the remote Aboriginal communities in the APY Lands.” As a result, the camels are threatening their communities, consuming food and water.
The camels are “destroying the country and eating all the Anangu food supplies, endangering travelers on the Stuart Highway and on the” Aboriginal lands, officials said.
“With the current ongoing dry conditions the large camel congregations threatening the APY communities and infrastructure, camel control is needed,” the statement said. It added that the feral animals and camels have been identified.
APY Lands manager Richard King told CBS News that between 5,000 and 10,000 camels will be targeted in the cull.
“This number is only 1 percent of what is currently destroying the fragile Australian [fauna] and flora,” he told the broadcaster Tuesday.
Australia’s National Feral Camel Management Plan estimated that more than 1 million wild camels populate Australia. The number could double in the next decade if the population isn’t managed.
While the wildfires rage on across Australia, experts have said that more than 1 billion animals may have died in Australian wildfires since September as authorities worked to crack down on the perpetrators.
University of Sydney professor Chris Dickman told the Huffington Post the figure in an update of his prior estimate of 480 million a week ago.
“The original figure―the 480 million―was based on mammals, birds, and reptiles for which we do have densities, and that figure now is a little bit out of date. It’s over 800 million given the extent of the fires now―in New South Wales alone,” he said. “If 800 million sounds a lot, it’s not all the animals in the firing line,” he added.
Dickman included bats, frogs, and invertebrates in the latest figure. “Over a billion would be a very conservative figure,” he told the website.
And according to Australian Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie, the wildfires are devastating the country’s livestock.
“I’ve got 100 vets across the country I’ve offered to state [agriculture] ministers,” she told the Australia Broadcasting Corporation. “I know South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales will be taking up that offer to get that assistance as soon as possible—to not just assess the health, but these teams will also be euthanizing stock.”