As if a plague of kangaroos weren’t enough, parts of Australia are under siege by 6,000 marauding wild camels. Residents of Docker River are afraid to leave their homes after thirsty camels came into town, destroying water mains and taking over a small airstrip.
“This is a significant community — some 350 people — where they’ve actually come right into the community, smashing infrastructure, so it’s become a critical situation,” says local government minister Rob Knight.
The prolonged drought is blamed for forcing the feral camels into villages looking for water. The animals were introduced to Australia at the end of the 19th century, and their numbers have grown to at least a million.
Thousands of the camels have overrun the airport, making it impossible for aircraft to land or for medical emergency evacuations to take place.
Worse, the camels have trampled each other in their search for water, causing health hazards as carcasses rot in the streets.
Authorities plan to scare the camels away from the town with helicopters and shoot them.
The Australian government is currently working on a $19 million nation camel action plan to prevent further damage by the wild herd, which has a negative effect on local ecosystems.
The camels have munched their way through 80 percent of the region's native plants.
"We don't have the luxury of time because the herd is getting bigger,” says Knight.