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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 32(1)

Who owns feral camels? Implications for managers of land and resources in central Australia

Stephen T. Garnett A, Greg Williams B, Gillian B. Ainsworth A D, Michael O’Donnell C

A School for Environmental Research, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia.
B School of Australian Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia.
C Barrister, John Toohey Chambers, Darwin, NT 0800, Australia.
D Corresponding author. Email: gill.ainsworth@cdu.edu.au
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This paper reviews the legislation relating to ownership of feral camels in Australia. We find that, as a general proposition, a feral camel is owned by neither the landowner nor the Government (the Crown), unless State or Territory legislation provides otherwise. This occurs in two limited situations and only for New South Wales and South Australia. Relevant State and Territory legislation can prescribe that feral camels cannot be taken or used without a relevant licence or permit, but only Western Australia and Queensland appear to do this. Lack of legislative certainty about ownership of camels has resulted in a clear market failure whereby there is also little or no private incentive to exercise control. This should be corrected by identifying explicitly that ownership is vested in the Crown. Legal analogues exist with respect to disease control and water management that could form the basis of an appropriate legislative framework.

Keywords: legislation, management, ownership, responsibility, welfare.

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