Amid the devastating wildfires spreading across Australia, up to 10,000 camels will be shot and killed by professional firearms experts from helicopters, following complaints that they are drinking too much water.
The cull will begin Wednesday and last approximately five days. About 5,000 to 10,000 camels in Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in the remote northwest of South Australia are being targeted.
On Monday, the officials stated that the animals are threats to the community, consuming their scarce water and food supplies in a massive and afflicted drought, endangering locals and travelers, and destroying infrastructure.
Locals have complained that the animals have been entering communities and wreaking havoc as they look for any available water source, including taps and tanks.
"We have been stuck in stinking hot and uncomfortable conditions, feeling unwell, because the camels are coming in and knocking down fences, getting in around the houses and trying to get to water through air-conditioners," Marita Baker, a board member of the APY executive, told The Australian.
The animals are also being culled over concerns about greenhouse gas emissions, as they emit the methane equivalent to 1 ton of carbon dioxide per year, the paper reported. A spokesperson for the South Australia Department of Environment and Water said the increasing number of camels had caused several problems in the region.
"This has resulted in significant damage to infrastructure, danger to families and communities, increased grazing pressure across the lands and critical animal welfare issues as some camels die of thirst or trample each other to access water," the spokesperson said.
In some cases, dead animals have contaminated important water sources and cultural sites. Camels are far from the only species suffering in heatwaves and on-going wildfires, which have destroyed entire towns and stranded thousands of people.