Just a quick post this week about something I’ve been contemplating for a while.
What if every Australian pledged to eat a feral animal a week?
Yes, I know that it’s a bit out of the pitch, and I’m sure not everyone would do it. Nor would it be physically possible for one person to eat an entire camel, buffalo or deer in a week – but hopefully you get the picture.
Why propose this? Australia is quite over-run with feral animals. Some quick stats:
- We have well over 1,000,000 camels (Camelus dromedarius), possibly closer to 1.5 to 2.0 million
- There are in excess of 150,000 swamp buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), most of which are found in the Top End
- Although estimates are rather imprecise, there are possibly up to 23 million feral pigs (Sus scrofa) across the country
- As equally variable, there are an estimated 2.6 million feral goats (Capra hircus) in Australia
- There are around 5000 to 7000 banteng restricted to the Cobourg Peninsula
- I’m not aware of any population size estimates, but Australia hosts six species of feral deer: fallow (Dama dama), red (Cervus elaphus), chital (Axis axis), hog (Hyelaphus porcinus), rusa (Cervus timorensis) and sambar (Rusa unicolor) in 1000s of subpopulations spread around the continent’s fringe
Now we have, of course, many other ferals (cats, rats, foxes, mice), but I don’t think too many people would want to eat them. I have personally eaten feral pigs, camels, buffalo, goats, and red, fallow and sambar deer, mostly from my own research trips or from friends who hunt.
Camel is delicious, if not a little tough (nothing a good marinade and tenderiser won’t fix), buffalo is fantastic, any sort of venison is wonderful, and pig, well, pig is divine with almost anything.
Sure, many small-scale industries exist to provide meat to commercial markets, but remoteness, hygiene and transport issues have meant that they’re largely specialised industries with little impact on our nation’s meat-consumption patterns.
Nonetheless, if we instilled the notion in your average Australian that it was his/her duty to eat more feral animals to do some environmental good, perhaps the increased demand would fuel more culling. A corollary would be that we’d need to eat fewer sheep and cattle, which would improve our rangelands.
So, be a proud Australian and eat a feral a week!