[This is really horrifying; please write to Australia's Prime Minister by Email after you read this; here is his website email contact form:
This is his name:
The Hon Kevin Rudd MP
CANBERRA ACT 2600]
Animal welfare groups have accused the Australian government of being "trigger happy" over plans to shoot 6,000 camels that invaded an outback town in search of water.
The animals have caused chaos in the Northern Territory town of Docker River, smashing water tanks, destroying fences and approaching houses. State officials have described the siege as a "critical situation" and warned that the town did not "have the luxury of time", after the camels blocked the town's airstrip -- preventing medical evacuations -- and began to contaminate the water supply.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) and Animals
Australia said the cull would cause "terrible suffering" to the animals.
The drama began when 30 camels approached the town, known as Kaltukatjara to its mostly indigenous population, more than a month ago. More followed looking for water, and soon thousands of the animals -- which can grow up to 2.1 metres (7ft) tall and weigh 900kg (2,000 pounds) -- were antagonising locals.
"The community of Docker River is under siege by 6,000 marauding wild camels," the Northern Territory local government minister, Rob Knight, told Northern Territory News. "The herd is increasing day by day."
Camels were first taken to Australia in 1840 from the Canary Islands to help in exploring the vast outback. The population continued to rise until the early 1920s, when motorised vehicles became more widely available.
As the need for them dwindled, most were turned into the bush, where owners expected they would die in the harsh conditions. But numbers have swollen to the extent that the Northern Territory government now estimates that "in excess of 1 million" feral camels are roaming the country.
As well as wreaking havoc in Docker River, camels have been blamed for defoliating shrubs and grazing on food sources traditionally used by Aboriginal Australians. They create a hazard for motorists travelling in the outback.