News From : DagangHalal.com (22 Feb 2010)
Muslims across the country are licking their lips at the thought of utilising a resource that has been overlooked for decades, but was once used to pioneer central Australia.
An abattoir near Alice Springs is on the verge of signing a contract to supply at least 10 per cent of Australia’s Muslim population with halal camel meat.
The first Muslims in Australia arrived in 1860 as economic migrants, prepared to work tirelessly to develop the vast interior.
Hailing from Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, they brought with them a great understanding of arid lands, as well as the 20,000 one-humped dromedaries needed to carry out the gruelling work.
From 1920 onwards, as roads improved and the use of motor vehicles for freight haulage increased, the numbers of captive domestic camels declined and many were released into the wild.
And now, according to Garry Dann, who runs the abattoir operation at Wamboden, about 30 kilometres north of Alice Springs, Australian Muslims could again play an important part in overcoming a problem of national significance.
Feral camels, spread across parts of South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland, are estimated to total about one million at present and are tipped to double within the next eight or nine years.
A partnership between Mr Dann and a halal distributor based in Melbourne could result in more Muslims helping to conserve Australia’s native flora and fauna by consuming the feral food.
Pending certification, it’s a plan that has the full support of Imam Kafrawi Hamzah from the Alice Springs Mosque.
“Eating camel meat has become popular now,” he told AAP.
He said interest in the product would grow even further once halal camel meat was readily available for purchase nationally.
Mr Dann told AAP he had been asked to supply about 10 per cent of Australia’s Muslim population, or 100,000 people, with half a kilogram of halal camel meat each per week.
“That equates back to 50 tonnes a week, which gets back to 400 bloody camels or more, and that’s just within domestic capital cities,” he said.
He said such an increase in demand may require the slaughtering to be done by Centralian Gold at Wamboden, and for the boning and processing to be sent to South Australia.
“We just won’t have the storage space,” Mr Dann said.
Under Islamic faith, Muslims must not consume meat unless it has been slaughtered by a Muslim and it must not have come into contact with the flesh of a pig in any way.
Once meat is slaughtered the halal way, it is lawful for a Muslim to consume it.
“We have so many people ready to be slaughtermen for camel,” Imam Hamzah said.
“And we try to tell the government this will create jobs.
“Why should we waste this animal by shooting it when it could be consumed by Muslims?
“Many people all over the world are hungry, they have no food, no meat – so why should we waste this kind of meat?”