Islands of water in a sea of dry land

Finding waterholes amid the arid landscape of Australia is an experience I liken to searching for, “islands of water in a sea of dry land.”

The dust trailing my Land Cruiser curls and whips away in my rear-view mirror. There’s a lot of spinifex out here. I’m on the road heading to Parnngurr (pronounced “bung ore”).

Found in Western Australia, it is one of the most remote communities remaining in Martu Country of the East Pilbara. I’m here in search of water.

Just as the water is scarce, feral camels are ubiquitous, and yet we know very little about the relationship between the two.

With the help of Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa and The Nature Conservancy, we are trying to determine how much water camels drink. A simple question you might say, but the results may be surprising.

Given that there are nearly half a million feral camels roaming through the arid reaches of Australia, we are just now beginning to understand their detrimental impacts on native wildlife and how to properly control this non-native behemoth.

Using state-of-the-art data-loggers and camera traps, we are coupling data from camel presence with changes in water depth. Stay tuned for the preliminary results of this work!