The Queensland Government is now in caretaker mode until after the state election. Minimal updates will be made to this site until after the election results are declared.

Camel

Inhabiting the deserts of the Middle East, central Asia and northern Africa, the dromedary camel is a large herbivore. Introduced to Australia in the 19th century for transport, it went on to form feral populations, which now spread across central Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, northern parts of South Australia, and outback Queensland.

In Australia, some camels are used for meat, weed control and camel rides and safaris. However, feral populations can destroy vegetation, cause erosion and damage infrastructure such as fences and buildings.

You can support a national feral camel mapping project by reporting feral camel populations.

The camel is not a prohibited or restricted invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Camelus dromedarius

Similar species

  • Bactrian camel, llama, alpaca, vicuna

Description

  • Large herbivore with body 3m long, tail 50cm long, shoulder height 180–210cm, weight 600–1,000kg.
  • Coat is smooth, beige to light brown, with lighter undersides.
  • Legs are slender with broad toes.
  • Has 2 humps.

Habitat

  • In summer, usually found in bushland and sand plain country that offers food and shelter from sun.
  • In winter, moves to salt lakes and saltmarshes.
  • Wanders widely according to conditions, sometimes covering 70km per day.

Distribution

  • Reported in Diamantina, Boulia, Mount Isa, Cloncurry, McKinlay, Richmond and Flinders shires.
  • Highly mobile, moving over areas up to 5,000km².
  • You can participate in a national mapping project by reporting feral camel populations.

Life cycle

  • Gestation period is 12–13 months.
  • One young per birth.
  • Birth interval is 18–24 months.
  • Weaning occurs at 1–2 years.
  • Sexual maturity is 3–4 years in females and 5–6 years in males.
  • Sexually active up to 30 years.
  • Life span up to 50 years.

Crops affected

  • Pastures
  • Native plants

Affected animals

  • Native animals
  • cattle
  • sheep

Impacts

Environmental

  • Can defoliate some shrub and tree species and prevent young plants reaching maturity.
  • Can degrade areas that serve as refuges for native species during drought.
  • Can affect fragile salt lake ecosystems and destabilise dune crests, leading to erosion.

Economic

  • Can damage fences and livestock watering points.

Social

  • Can cause damage to Aboriginal cultural sites and food plants harvested by Aboriginal people.
  • Can create traffic hazards.
  • Can damage air conditioners and public toilets in search for water during drought.

Natural enemies

  • No known predators, although dingoes or wild dogs may take young camels.

Control

  • Exclusion fencing.
  • Live harvest of wild animals for commercial sale.
  • Ground-based and aerial culling.
  • Trapping at water points.

Legal requirements

  • The camel is not a prohibited or restricted invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014. However, by law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control.
  • Local governments must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in their area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.
  • May be controlled as long as the requirements of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 are fulfilled.

Further information