Saturday, May 05, 2007
Camel Burger Anyone?
I heard this on AM on ABC radio yesterday and in response to the title of Morag the Mindbenders' thought provoking post titled, What does one do with 1,000,000 camels?, and not really about camels, here is one solution. There are others, including live and dead export and camel racing, which are detailed here.
From ABC AM Transcripts and my memory.
They're ugly, ungainly, and they sound like a flushing toilet, but apparently one day these desert loving beasts of burden are heading towards a future life as burgers, sausages and steaks, for a barbie near you.
Australia has the only wild herds of one-humped camels in the world, and in some parts of South Australia and the Northern Territory they're in plague proportions with a population estimated at more than a million, with predictions that it could reach over 4 million. In a move to diversify, mining giant BHP Billiton is running a trial near Lake Eyre, corralling camels in paddocks to see if they can be bred as a grazing species. It's hoped that the camel can then be marketed as healthy red meat for both the domestic and export market.
Historically they are as grumpy as they look and hate to be placed in paddocks, destroying fences and generally rendering havoc when given the chance. Camels also will, given the right situation, move en masse into remote Aboriginal communities, and smash things up a bit, destroying air conditioners, pulling taps out of the ground, and even smashing toilets. I wonder if they have camel ASBOs in the outback.
The first camel to stride onto Australian shores was a giant bull called Harry, a beast of burden brought in from the Canary Islands in 1840. They were put to work transporting and pulling people and goods all over Australia. More great photos here. But with the increasing use of cars and trucks in the 1920s, Harry's successors were discarded in the deserts of Australia where they've thrived ever since.
Camels have advantages over cattle in the extreme desert environments that they habit. They require less water, about one-twentieth the amount cattle need. They don't drink as often and they can drink more saline water. Dams and water holes around the edge of Lake Eyre often can get very salty, and while you have to move cattle off, the camels can last longer.
Australia, the only country to eat it's national emblem, could be heading down the path of Camel Burgers before we know it. Like kangaroo and emu meat, apparently the key is to not overcook it. I wonder if it is wine or beer with camel? Followed of course with camelbert cheese and after, you could always have a smoke.
Trivia Question: Do camels get up from the front or the back. If you have been on one, you will not forget. They have camel rides at Glenelg, just down the road, by the sea from us here. A very different feel to the donkey rides of my childhood. Not sure that they would make very good pets either.