Move over, beef. Camel meat could become the newest Australian export if an Egyptian businessman is successful with his bid to open a slaughterhouse in a rural South Australian town.
Magdy El Ashram’s ambitions would not only bring camel meat to dinner tables, it would also reduce a feral camel population that has caused serious ecological problems, and create up to 300 jobs in a place that badly needs them.
Originally introduced in 1840, mainly from India to provide transport, there are currently more than one million feral camels roaming over three million square km of outback Australia, breeding at a rate that doubles their population every nine years. The animals cause more than A$10 million a year in damage to fragile outback ecosystems.
El Ashram has applied for permission to develop what would eventually be the largest abbatoir in Australia, capable of processing 100,000 animals a year, including donkey and goat meat destined for the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.
Wild camel could be viewed as a high-quality “organic” alternative to purpose farmed stock, according to El Ashram.
And the flavour?
El Ashram describes camel meat as similar to beef, but richer in iron and vitamin C.
“The only thing about camel is, if it’s aged it’s a bit chewy,” he said. “But that’s the same case with an old cow.”