Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Population trend of feral camels in the Northern Territory, Australia

Glenn P. Edwards A C , Keith Saalfeld B and Bretan Clifford A

A Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment, PO Box 2130, Alice Springs, NT 0871, Australia.

B Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment, PO Box 496, Palmerston, NT 0831, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: glen.edwards@nt.gov.au

Wildlife Research 31(5) 509-517 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WR03073
Submitted: 11 August 2003  Accepted: 20 April 2004   Published: 13 December 2004

Abstract

We conducted a broad-scale aerial survey between 20 August and 12 October 2001 to ascertain the distribution and abundance of feral camels in the southern part of the Northern Territory. There was a minimum of 80 533 feral camels in the Northern Territory at the time of the survey. This figure is corrected for perception bias (a result of observers missing animals that are potentially visible), but not for availability bias (a result of some animals being concealed from the observers). The population of feral camels in the Northern Territory increased at a mean annual exponential rate, r, of 0.093 between 1993 and 2001. This represents an increase of ~10% per year or an approximate doubling in population size every 8 years. This trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. We use the results of an earlier survey (which included the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia) to give a minimum figure of 300 000 feral camels for Australia in 2001. We discuss what is known of the impacts of feral camels in Australia, the inadequacy of current management practices and issues to be considered in designing an effective long-term management strategy for the species.


References

Anon. (1991). ‘Culling of Large Feral Animals in the Northern Territory. Report by the Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare, June 1991.’ (Senate Publications Unit: Canberra.)

Bayliss P. Yeomans K. M. 1989 a Distribution and abundance of feral livestock in the ‘Top End’ of the Northern Territory (1985–86), and their relation to population control. Australian Wildlife Research 16 651 676

Bayliss P. Yeomans K. M. 1989 b Correcting bias in aerial survey population estimates of feral livestock in Northern Australia using the double-count technique. Journal of Applied Ecology 26 925 933


Caughley G. 1974 Bias in aerial survey. Journal of Wildlife Management 38 921 933


Caughley G. (1977). ‘Analysis of Vertebrate Populations.’ (John Wiley and Sons: Chichester.)

Caughley G. (1979a). Sampling techniques for aerial censuses. In ‘Aerial Surveys of Fauna Populations. Proceedings of a Workshop held in University House, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, 22–25 February 1977’. pp. 9–13. (Australian Government Publishing Service: Canberra.)

Caughley G. (1979b). Design for aerial census. In ‘Aerial Surveys of Fauna Populations. Proceedings of a Workshop held in University House, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, 22–25 February 1977’. pp. 15–23. (Australian Government Publishing Service: Canberra.)

Caughley G. (1987). Ecological relationships. In ‘Kangaroos, Their Ecology and Management in the Sheep Rangelends of Australia’. (Eds G. Caughley, N. Shepherd and J. Short.) pp. 159–187. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.)

Caughley G. C. Grigg G. C. 1982 Numbers and distribution of kangaroos in the Queensland pastoral zone. Australian Wildlife Research 9 365 371


Caughley G., and Sinclair A. R. E. (1994). ‘Wildlife Ecology and Management.’ (Blackwell Science: Cambridge.)

Caughley G. Sinclair R. Scott-Kemmis D. 1976 Experiments in aerial survey. Journal of Wildlife Management 40 290 300


Choquenot D. 1995 Species and habitat related visibility bias in helicopter counts of kangaroos. Wildlife Society Bulletin 23 175 179


Connors G., Oliver B., and Woinarski J. (1996). Bioregions in the Northern Territory: conservation values, reservation status and information gaps. Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory final report to Australian Nature Conservation Agency, National Reserves System Cooperative Program Project N607, Canberra.

Dörges B., and Heucke J. (1995). Ecology, social organization and behavior of the feral dromedary Camelus dromedarius (L. 1758) in central Australia. Unpublished translation of two dissertations, University of Braunschweig, Braunschweig. [Available from the Arid Zone Research Institute Library, Alice Springs.]

Dörges B., and Heucke J. (2003). Demonstration of ecologically sustainable management of camels on aboriginal and pastoral land. Final report on project No. 200046 of the National Heritage Trust, Canberra, Australia. [Available from the Arid Zone Research Institute Library, Alice Springs.]

Edwards G. P. Eldridge S. R. Wurst D. Berman D. M. Garbin V. 2001 Movement patterns of female feral camels in central and northern Australia. Wildlife Research 28 283 289
DOI

Graham A., Johnson K., and Graham P. (1986). An aerial survey of horses and other large animals in the Alice Springs and Gulf regions. Technical Report No. 28. Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory, Alice Springs. [Available from the Arid Zone Research Institute Library, Alice Springs.]

Grigg G. C. Pople A. R. Beard L. A. 1995 Movements of feral camels in central Australia determined by satellite telemetry. Journal of Arid Environments 31 459 469

Jolly G. M. 1969 The treatment of errors in aerial counts of wildlife populations. East African Agricultural and Forestry Journal 34 50 55


Köhler-Rollefson I., Mundy P., and Mathias E. (2001). ‘A Field Manual of Camel Diseases. Traditional and Modern Health Care for the Dromedary.’ (ITDG Publishing: London.)

Marsh H. Sinclair D. F. 1989 Correcting for visibility bias in strip transect aerial surveys of aquatic fauna. Journal of Wildlife Management 53 1017 1024


McKnight T. L. (1969). ‘The Camel in Australia.’ (Melbourne University Press: Melbourne.)

McLeod S. R. 1997 Is the concept of carrying capacity useful in variable environments? Oikos 79 529 542


Noy-Meir I. 1973 Desert ecosystems: environments and producers. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 4 25 51
DOI

Parkes J., Henzell R., and Pickles G. (1996). ‘Managing Vertebrate Pests: Feral Goats.’ (Australian Government Publishing Service: Canberra.)

Pople A. R. Grigg G. C. Cairns S. C. Alexander P. Beard L. A. Henzell R. P. 1996 Trends in numbers and changes in the distribution of feral goats (Capra hircus) in the South Australian pastoral zone. Wildlife Research 23 687 696

Pople A. R. Clancy T. F. Thompson J. A. Boyd-Law S. 1998 Aerial survey methodology and the cost of control for feral goats in Western Queensland. Wildlife Research 25 393 407
DOI

Rose B. (1995). Land management issues: attitudes and perceptions amongst Aboriginal people of central Australia. A report to the Central Land Council, Alice Springs, NT, Australia, and the National Landcare Program, Canberra, ACT, Australia.

Short J. Caughley G. Grice D. Brown B. 1988 The distribution and relative abundance of camels in Australia. Journal of Arid Environments 15 91 97

Thackway R., and Cresswell I. D. (1995). ‘An Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia: a Framework for Establishing the National System of Reserves.’ 4th edn. (Australian Nature Conservation Agency: Canberra.)

Wurst D., and Saalfeld W. K. (1994). Aerial survey of feral camels and other large vertebrate species in the Alice Springs region of the Northern Territory. Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory final report to Australian Nature Conservation Agency, Canberra, ACT, Australia. [Available from the Arid Zone Research Institute Library, Alice Springs.]



Export Citation