The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect the views of Animals Australia.
It's enough to make an even-toed ungulate weep. Australia's population of wild camels, the Financial Times reveals, may soon be shot in order to earn carbon credits under the country's forthcoming emissions trading scheme.
Each one of the creatures is estimated to produce a tonne of carbon dioxide a year – about the same as a 7,000km flight – not to mention the environmental havoc they cause in a fragile desert landscape more suited to amiable marsupials.
Outback Australia, argue the promoters of the scheme, is being terrorised by up to a million feral camels, the unwanted descendants of beasts brought to the country a century ago to carry loads in the desert, and let loose once trucks took over their role. These unloved burping, grunting ships of the desert now face mass slaughter as a token of Australia's slow-off-the-mark battle against climate change.
By some measures, Australians are the biggest per capita emitter of carbon dioxide on the planet, ahead of even the United States. Yet some might think it odd that camels are being singled out, when that other invasive species, the human, is really the cause of the problem, and ask whether climate change is more an excuse than a justification for the cull.
The country certainly has too many camels, and animal rights campaigners may be oveoptimistic when they suggest feeding the animals birth-control tablets. But the camels didn't ask to be sent to Australia in the first place. They are just doing what camels naturally do.