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Feral camels set for export as frozen meat

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Camel meat could be exported from Australia as early as 2012, with plans to build what would be the country’s largest abattoir in rural South Australia. Egyptian businessman Magdy El Ashram has lodged a development application with Port Pirie Regional Council for a $15 million slaughterhouse and meat processing plant, which he says will cater to international demand. "Camel is a popular food in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, and Australia has the resources to provide meat to people who like it," Ashram said. Licensed musterers would deliver camels to the plant from the feral population plaguing remote parts of Australia. Feral camels cost an estimated $10 million annually in damage to infrastructure, property, and environment, including the cost of existing culling and management projects. Jane Ferguson, managing director of Ninti One Limited which runs the Australian Feral Camel Managing Project, stressed the importance of a holistic approach. "Commercial camel operations need to be driven by economic considerations and need to address the animal welfare issues associated with mustering and transporting wild camels over large distances," she said. Ashram, who owns frozen-meat importer Magdiens Australia, said the plant would process 100,000 camels each year and create up to 300 new jobs. The site would also process goat and donkey meat for export to the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. Port Pirie Mayor Brenton Vanstone is a strong supporter of the proposal. "Obviously it's a good environmental solution and it will bring important employment alternatives to the area," he said.

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