ONE Territory business has cooked up a solution to the feral camel problem and it smells a lot like dinner.
Central Australian meat producer Territory Camel is selling camel steaks and sausages throughout the Territory and is now planning to export to up to 26 countries.
Camel meat is said to taste a lot like beef but is very low in cholesterol.
It is also free of pesticide residues and chemicals.
Territory Camel managing director Garry Dann has been a pastoralist for years. Two years ago he restarted an abandoned abattoir 30km northwest of Alice Springs to process free-range beef and camel meat.
But he sees real growth prospects in the dromedaries. Mr Dann said he is seeking to gain tier 1 accreditation for the abattoir with the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service, which would enable him to export.
“Mainly to the Middle Eastern countries such as the UAE – they like camel there,” he said.
More than 600,000 feral camels roam the NT, causing environmental degradation and plaguing pastoralists who often call for culls.
But a full-grown male camel is worth $300 at the abattoir.
“It’s a great resource,” Mr Dann said.
“I don’t like seeing them shot and wasted – they’re good meat.”
Boning, packing and management of animals in the paddocks creates work for remote indigenous people.
Mr Dann is already employing remote indigenous people from Central Australia, including the southwest of the NT and the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands to bring camels in to process.
“Where in Alice a mob of 60-70 is a big mob, in the APY lands you get mobs of 700 to 1500 or better,” he said.
Mr Dann said if he gets tier 1 accreditation, he will move from processing about 40 camels per week to 200.
Territory Camel sells camel steaks, mince and sausages through consumer outlets in Darwin and also Alice Springs.
Company spokeswoman Sarah Debney said the biggest challengefor the company was creating consumer demand.
“Once a person has tried camel meat the yuck factor is dispelled,” she said.
“Camel meat tastes so similar to beef that even expert cattlemen have been tricked over a camel T-bone.”