The camel milk industry has been growing rapidly in Australia for the last decade, and the country now boasts the third-largest camel dairy farm in the world.
But this love of camel milk isn’t part of just another health food trend — it’s a clever way to, quite literally, milk a huge untapped resource in the country. That’s because Australia also has a camel problem.
In the 1860s, a small herd of dromedary camels was brought to the continent to help with exploration and transportation of Australia’s desert interior. But with the advent of the internal combustion engine, they were left to roam. By the early 2000s, some estimates said there were over a million feral camels spread out over 1.3 million square miles of the country’s interior, making it the largest feral camel herd in the world.
In 2010, the federal government created the “Feral Camel Management Project,” which saw rangers cull hundreds of thousands of the animals by firing rifles at them from helicopters.
Now, some entrepreneurs have found a more humane use for the camels: milking them. And this trend shows no signs of slowing down.
Humans have been drinking camel milk longer than we've been drinking cows milk — around 6,000 years. In places like the Middle East, camel milk is still the most widely consumed kind of milk. Proponents tout camel milk’s high Vitamin C and low saturated fat content, although much of the research is still patchy.
Lauren Brisbane, owner of QCamel farm, hopes more people will catch on to the benefits of camel milk. The biggest drawback at the moment, however, is the price tag. At 25 Australian dollars a liter, it isn't cheap.
VICE News visited QCamel farm to learn up on Australia’s newest health fad.
This segment originally aired April 18, 2018, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.