Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 00:45 | SYDNEY
Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 00:45 | SYDNEY

Australia not yet exploiting the camel boom


Sam Roggeveen


8 May 2008 16:36

Yesterday, The Economist's blog, Free Exchange, led me to this Financial Times article on India's camel boom:

As the cost of running gas-guzzling tractors soars, even-toed ungulates are making a comeback, raising hopes that a fall in the population of the desert state’s signature animal can be reversed. “It’s excellent for the camel population if the price of oil continues to go up because demand for camels will also go up,” says Ilse Köhler-Rollefson of the League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development. “Two years ago, a camel cost little more than a goat, which is nothing. The price has since trebled.”

The shift comes not a moment too soon for a national camel population that has fallen more than 50 per cent over the past decade, to about 450,000, according to government figures.

Rising prices. High demand. Falling supply. Sounds like a good scenario if you can exploit it. So I called Peter Seidel of Camels Australia Export to ask if he was detecting an export upswing. But according to Peter, Australian camels are sold to the Middle East and Southeast Asia mainly for meat and dairy production, and some as breeding stock. India couldn't afford Australian camels anyway, he reckons, though that might change if oil prices continue to head north.