Camels were introduced to Australia in the 1840s to be used to assist in exploring arid areas. However, the influx of rail and motor transport in the 1930s saw camels become redundant to humans and were consequently abandoned.

Populations of camels were estimated to be at least 800,000 in 2008, prompting state and territory governments to establish culling programs that have more than halved the population. The culling programs mostly involve shooting these beautiful creatures from helicopters. In more recent years, camels have been exploited for entertainment in circuses or ridden by tourists, as well as being slaughtered for their flesh and even used to produce milk.

Using camels for a profit 

With an abundance of wild camels in Australia, the Central Australian Camel Industry Association worked to codify them, and there are now established trade markets for camel meat, skin, and live export. It is now considered to be an emerging industry in Australia, relying upon wild harvesting of camels as well as camels farmed for milk and tourism.

Wild camel culls 

Using helicopters, motorbikes, horse riding, and ‘coacher camels’, wild camels are driven to a set of yards where they are trapped and unable to escape, a practice referred to by the industry as ‘mustering’. Following capture camels are commonly sold off to abattoirs to be killed for meat, while a smaller number are sold for live export overseas. In some instances they are shot in the yards, watching on as their friends are killed before them.

The stress and terror of mustering and contact with humans can lead to a number of devastating outcomes for camels; feeding disruption, abortion in heavily pregnant females, and social disruption are just some of the issues inherent to this industry.

It is also commonplace to cull camels by means of aerial shooting, which involves tracking and shooting camels from a helicopter. A shooter’s accuracy is extremely impaired when shooting from a moving vehicle, which means that often shots will only wound and not kill the animals, causing them prolonged agony and suffering until they are shot a second time or die from the injuries of the first.

Camel Dairy 

As well as being used for their flesh and live export, wild-caught camels are also diverted to dairy farms where they are forced to produce milk for human consumption. The camel dairy industry promotes itself as a healthier product than cow’s milk and a more resourceful alternative to aerial culling.

Camel dairies frequently profess to be sanctuaries for camels who would otherwise be killed, however, this could not be further from the truth. Camel dairies send bull calves to be slaughtered due to their lack of perceived usefulness to the dairy given they cannot produce milk. It is estimated that 50,000 litres of camel milk was produced in Australia in 2016, with an industry gross value of $800,000 per year.

Camels used for human entertainment 

Camels are often used for human amusement and entertainment, either in circuses or to be ridden. This is not unique to Australia; camels all around the world are forced to work for humans in this way. Keeping camels for entertainment purposes raises huge concerns for their welfare, particularly regarding the breaking-in process, housing, and ongoing treatment.

Human Impact

Mental and physical health implications for slaughterhouse workers

We understand that animals suffer immensely in slaughterhouses, however, something less widely discussed is the human health impacts of working in these places. Abattoirs are incredibly unsafe places to work, both physically and mentally.

Workers are exposed to extremities of temperatures, intense noise, and harsh chemicals and bacteria. Further, workers commonly suffer from musculoskeletal disorders from repetitive working motions.

Evidence suggests that prolonged exposure to violence in abattoirs can cause extreme psychological damage. Workers have even been documented experiencing perpetrator-induced stress disorder, a form of post-traumatic stress. 

To learn more about the human-related impacts of the animal industrial complex, click here.