A $19 million federal government-funded feral camel management project has ended after falling disastrously short of culling predictions.
The Australian Feral Camel Management Project (AFCMP) admits it vastly overestimated wild camel numbers in central Australia and could only remove 135,000 – well short of the 617,000 it estimated in 2008.
The Australian reports the AFCMP will concede in a report to the government on Thursday that there may only be 300,000 wild camels in the region, not 1 million as originally proposed.
The project, run by not-for-profit company Ninti One as a means to protect 18 “biodiversity refuges” in the Simpson Desert and Pilbara regions, returned $2.5m.
Ninti One’s managing director said the project was a huge success in this regard, but it would hand back about $1.5m.
A spokesman for live camel exporter Ngaanyatjarra Camel Company said Ninti One had been warned it had overstated camel numbers and that the cull had harmed the abbatoir industry.
The dead animals left in the desert by Ninti One could have been worth $135 million in potential export sales.
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