Helicopter-borne marksmen killed more than 5,000 camels in a five-day cull of feral herds that were threatening indigenous communities in drought-stricken areas of southern Australia, officials said Tuesday.
Aboriginal leaders in South Australia state said extremely large herds of the non-native camels had been driven towards rural communities by drought and extreme heat, threatening scarce food and drinking water, damaging infrastructure, and creating a dangerous hazard for drivers.
The cull in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands -- home to about 2,300 indigenous people in the arid northwest of South Australia -- ended on Sunday, said APY general manager Richard King.
"We appreciate the concerns of animal rights activists, but there is significant misinformation about the realities of life for non-native feral animals, in what is among the most arid and remote places on earth," King said in a statement Tuesday.
"As custodians of the land, we need to deal with an introduced pest in a way that protects valuable water supplies for communities and puts the lives of everyone, including our young children, the elderly, and native flora and fauna first."