By Claire Ferris-Lay
Paddy McHugh aims to morph AUS$19.5m camel cull budget into lucrative business
A Queensland businessman plans to take on the Australian government in a bid to redirect a multimillion-dollar camel cull into a plan to exporting camel produce to the Gulf.
Outback entrepreneur Paddy McHugh hopes to persuade Australia to capitalise on its wild camel population to create a lucrative business, selling milk and camels into the Gulf region.
“We want to turn it around from a negative and produce an industry for Australia to export meat and milk to the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. It’s got huge potential,” he told Arabian Business.
The Australian government plans to spend $19.5m on a cull over the next four years in a bid to control its camel population. The country is home to an estimated one million camels, but the figure is set to double within eight years if left unchecked.
The feral animals are often labelled a nuisance, competing with cattle and sheep for food and crushing vegetation. In the Middle East, however, the desert animals are an integral part of life, used for food, drink and racing.
“The potential is huge and I just find it absurd that we want to shoot these animals,” McHugh said. “It’s a waste of phenomenal proportions. We believe there is an industry there that will compliment the Australian cattle and sheep industry and make another great export industry.”
Interest in camel produce is growing due to its reported health benefits. Advocates claim the milk contains up to five times more vitamin C than cow milk, less fat and less lactose while its meat is said to be low in cholesterol and high in protein.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the global market for camel milk could be worth as much as $10bn.
“I get three enquiries every day looking for camel meat, the market in Saudi Arabia and in Egypt is huge. [We can look] at breeding programmes, which require hundreds of surrogate mothers, in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for their racing fraternity,” said McHugh.
As well as saving thousands of camels lives McHugh said the new industry could also employ Aborigines, many of whom remain unemployed.
“The Aboriginal people in Australia are quite destitute, and we believe it’s a great industry to embrace and harvest these feral animals,” said McHugh.
Last January, camel owners in Saudi Arabia launched a huge internet campaign in a bid to save 6,000 camels from being killed in the Northern Territory town of Dockwer River.
Onya Paddy, you're only one the Australian government can't shut up.
There is so much science in the camel - you can produce a heat stable anti-snake venom that is non-allergenic (as opposed to that produced in goats and horses which need a cool chain). This could be an incredible resource for every Australian, especially farmers.
And the Australian camels are some of the healthiest in the world - with red blood cell counts at 12 million compared to the UAE's 8 million. I spoke to a leading camel scientist (Dr Ulli Wernery) who laughed at the cull saying there is no way you will ever eradicate them by culling. The outback is too fertile - they will come back again.
As a good Aussy friend said to me: "what kind of mentality are we breeding by solving a problem by killing".
And I'm afraid the non-native species doesn't cut it - cows are non-native. Horses are non-native. Hell - most Australians are non-native!
Camels have been so useful to peope. It is not right to kill them all. God gave camels to humans to help us. They are a gift and a blessing. Every part of the camel is useful. Their milk is as good for a human as mother's milk. A A car breaks and that is the end of it. Camels have calves. Horses have colts. Neither requires gasoline to run.
Camels will be around through all the but the absolute worst drought. The y are loyal, and very smart. I was so upset about the camel cull, and so grateful to Paddy McHugh for his help to camels.