Chapter 3: Key stakeholder perceptions of feral camels: pastoralist survey

Chapter 3: Key stakeholder perceptions of feral camels: pastoralist survey Book Section

Managing the impacts of feral camels in Australia: a new way of doing business

  • Author(s): Zeng, B, Edwards, GP
  • Secondary Author(s): Edwards, G., Zeng, B., Saalfeld, W, Vaarzon-Morel, P., McGregor, Murray
  • Tertiary Author(s): Desert Knowledge CRC,
  • Published: 2008
  • Publisher: Desert Knowledge CRC

Abstract: The perspectives of people involved in the pastoral industry on feral camels and their management were assessed through a questionnaire survey. The survey was designed to gauge: - understanding about the distribution and abundance of feral camels - perspective on camel impacts - attitudes towards different camel management options. Two hundred and nine properties responded to the survey. This represented about 18% of all pastoral properties within or on the margins of the camel range. The properties that responded to the survey covered 706 489 km2, which is about 32% of the entire area of pastoral lands within or on the margins of the camel range (approximately 2.22 million km2). Camels occurred on the majority of the properties surveyed and more than 50% of pastoralists reported that the camel numbers were increasing. Most pastoralists with camels on their properties claimed that camels caused damage. The value of this damage was estimated to be $7.15 million annually across all pastoral properties within or on the margins of the camel range, including $3.42 million for production losses (attributable to camels competing with stock for food and water, cattle escaping, etc.), $2.40 million for infrastructure damage (i.e. damage to fences, yards, and water equipment) and $1.33 million for management. A small minority of pastoralists reported benefits attributable to feral camels. These benefits accrued from selling camels, eating camels, and using camels for NRM activities, including weed control. The value of the benefit that pastoralists realised from feral camels was estimated to be about $0.58 million annually across all pastoral properties within or on the margins of the camel range. Pastoralists are one of the most important harvesters of feral camels, accounting for about 20% of the total annual harvest for the period July 05 – June 07. The vast majority of surveyed pastoralists indicated that camels needed to be controlled, and they favoured the methods of shooting to waste and harvesting to use camels. However, a small percentage is interested in pursuing alternative approaches, including exclusion fencing and Judas collaring. This indicates that pastoralists may be willing to engage in new techniques in conjunction with the preferred methods. Fewer than 11% of those surveyed indicated that they supported ‘strategic’ approaches to the control of camels and their impacts. This may indicate that pastoralists want immediate action rather than more talking about, planning to deal with, and monitoring of the problem. Pastoralists are indeed getting on with the job of managing the problem and are investing significant resources in doing so. More than 80% of pastoralists engaged in some form of activity to manage camels on their properties. Pastoralists engaged in all of the currently available methods for managing feral camels, with culling (shooting to waste) being the most widely used form of management. Most camel management is currently undertaken by station personnel. It is essential that the willingness and capacity of pastoralists to engage in the management of feral camels be harnessed when implementing a cross-jurisdictional approach to managing feral camel impacts. While most pastoralists indicated that commercial use was a desirable way of managing camels and most generally supported the development of a stronger camel industry in Australia, only a few currently undertake management actions involving this approach. There is a lack of confidence in the current camel industry with particular concerns over its long-term viability because of unproved markets. The majority of pastoralists would have to upgrade their current infrastructure before they could engage more widely in the commercial use of camels. Pastoralists currently engage with governments to secure assistance with culling operations. Most pastoralists indicated that they would welcome more assistance to manage feral camels on their land, particularly assistance with culling and the commercial use of camels. Although the vast majority of pastoralists were engaged in managing camels and their impacts, most did not obtain relevant information that could help them in this task. This highlights the need for a communication strategy to disseminate information on camels, their impacts, and their management in culturally appropriate formats to all relevant stakeholders. This strategy should provide for two-way communication.

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Suggested Citation
Zeng, B, Edwards, GP, 2008, Chapter 3: Key stakeholder perceptions of feral camels: pastoralist survey, Book Section, viewed 03 April 2020, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=4918.

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