By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ANKARA (AA) - More than 5,000 camels were killed by Australian authorities to what they called “urgent response to threats” posed by rise in number of feral camels due to drought.
Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY), a local government area for Aboriginal Australians, said in a statement on Tuesday that over 5,000 camels were removed in an aerial control operation.
“The population of non-native camels had exploded in recent years and were causing significant damage to infrastructure and native vegetation, danger to families and communities,” said APY General Manager Richard King, justifying the move which received heavy criticism across the globe.
APY is a large, sparsely populated area located in the remote northwest of South Australia.
"We appreciate the concerns of animal rights activists, but there is significant misinformation about the realities of life for non-native feral animals, in what is among the most arid and remote places on Earth," King added.
Responding to calls to prevent the haphazard mass culling of camels, Turkey earlier urged Australia to find alternative ways to deal with the growing population of camels instead of killing thousands of them.
“We are worried about news reports that up to 10,000 camels will be shot and killed due to excessive proliferation and water problems for various reasons. We express our call to the Australian government to find a different solution,” Omer Celik, a spokesman for the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, said last week.
The APY claimed that camel culling operation was “a last-resort measure.”
"As custodians of the land, we need to deal with an introduced pest in a way that protects valuable water supplies for communities and puts the lives of everyone, including our young children, the elderly, and native flora and fauna first,” said King.
Turkey’s Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) suggested Australia “send the meat of the camels to countries where the needs are very high.”
It is yet to be seen whether Australia responded to the IHH proposal.
Australia is facing heavy bushfires which have ravaged parts of the country, killing nearly 26 and damaging properties worth billion. Vast swathes of land and grass has been badly affected while wildlife estimates claim nearly a million animals have died in the disturbing fires.
Large parts of Australia are witnessing drought for periods ranging from a year to seven years. Farmers in New South Wales and Queensland termed the ongoing drought as the worst in "living memory", with costs of stock feed and transport spiraling, according to ABC News.