Even Camels Aren’t Safe From Global Warming

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Australia’s current drought, the worst in a century, is driving its feral camels mad with thirst. The country’s 1 million wild camels, the largest population in the world, are stampeding through Western Australian towns looking for water. “They did a lot of damage searching for water,” a townswoman told Reuters, “trampling air conditioning hoses, taps, and pipes.” Despite these attempts, thousands of the animals are being found dead along the dried-up banks of the Docker River.

The camels, which usually travel in groups of about 100 animals, were first introduced to Australia around 1840 to provide transportation through the dangerously hot and expansive deserts of Western and Central Australia. The several different breeds–slender riding camels from the Middle East, two-humped camels from China, and draft camels from India–were essential cargo vehicles for the country’s many infrastructure projects. But by 1930, autos had replaced camels and the animals were left to fend for themselves.

Left alone, the animals flourished in the desert and today camels are an epic problem Down Under, particularly for the Aboriginees who live in more remote areas of the contintent. In an attempt to control populations, Australia captures and sends live camels to Southeast Asia and hope to send 25,000 a year to Muslim markets.

Even such measures will be insufficient to deal with animals that live for 50 years, breed for 30, and whose population doubles every eight years. As global warming increases the droughts, gangs of hundreds of thirsty camels will most likely continue to be a force to reckon with. Researchers are meeting in Perth tomorrow to decide their fate.

–Jen Phillips

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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