Australian Camel

A native population of camel, a Hoofed MamMAL, said to exist in Australia prior to 1840. Variant name: Big one bullocky.

Distribution: Northern Territory, Australia.

Significant sighting: A solitary camel was occasionally seen by Aborigines in the north, perhaps as early as the 1830s. It was rumored to have been brought by an early white settler.

Possible explanation: It is possible that a few camels were brought to Australia prior to the beginning of official and typically strict importation records. The first camel officially imported came from the Canary Islands in 1840. The next major importation of Dromedaries (Camelus dromedarius) took place in 1860 for the ill-fated Bourke and Wills Expedition to Northern Australia. Between 1860 and 1907, an estimated 10,000-12,000 camels were imported into Australia for use as draft and riding animals in the dry interior, especially in the goldfields. By 1930, they had been replaced by motor vehicles, and most had escaped or been released into the wild. The establishment of small, naturalized camel herds over the years demonstrates that these animals could adapt readily to the terrain and the climate. The current population is variously estimated at 150,000-300,000, with approximately 50 percent in Western Australia, 25 percent in the

Northern Territory, and 25 percent in western Queensland and northern South Australia.

Sources: E. Lloyd, A Visit to the Antipodes, with Some Reminiscences ofa Sojourn in Australia, by a Squatter (London: Smith, Elder, 1846), pp. 140-141; Calamunnda Camel Farm: Information, History, and Facts on Camels, http://camelfarm.com/camel_ information.html.

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