An Oz Outback community is battling to regain control of its town from a 6,000-strong feral camel invasion, which has seen the thirsty dromedaries cause "chaos" in their search for water.
According to the Times, the drought-hit beasts have descended on the Northern Territory's Docker River en masse, "trampling through homes, breaking water tanks and even damaging the emergency airstrip".
Graham Taylor, chief exec of the local council, reported that the first camel spearheads arrived about five weeks ago, but since then the incursion had grown considerably in strength. He said: “What seems to be happening is they are coming into the town looking for water for four or five days - they have a drink and they linger... and more and more keep arriving. The numbers are building daily.”
He added: “Some people are opening their windows and all they see is camels."
Taylor explained that the animals were "so desperate they had broken fire hydrants and drinking troughs, and some had resorted to licking drops of water from the evaporation cooling systems on the roofs of houses".
Northern Territory local government minister Rob Knight agreed the situation was "critical", and promised AU$49,000 (£27,000) emergency funding to stem the tide. Within the next few days, chopper crews will begin to herd the camels 10 miles out of town, where they'll be shot.
Oz's camels were introduced from the 1840s, and provided valuable service as pack animals in opening up the country's vast Outback. The wild descendants of these pioneers have become a major problem, however, and now number around 1,000,000 in Central Australia.
The Times notes that back in July the federal government allocated AU$19m for control measures, including a "widespread cull". ®