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One hump or two?

Australia [CAMEL FARMING]

Koala bears, kangaroos and camels. In a list of animals associated with Australia the last beast in that list would appear to be an anomaly. However, camel farming is becoming an increasingly important factor in the Australian food market.

“There’s a great industry and a great opportunity,” says Garry Dann, managing director of Territory Camel in Alice Springs and deputy chair of the Camel Industry Association. Dann sells camel meat – from sausages to T-bone steaks – and also breeds the animals for the Asian market.

Camels were first imported to Australia in the 19th century as a means of transport but were subsequently left to flourish unchecked when newly built roads rendered them redundant. “Camels can’t dehydrate on you,” Dann points out. “One third of Australia is arid, and camels are more suited to those areas where cattle farming would fail.”

But while the climate is suitable, the size of the country is not so helpful. “Transporting camels is expensive,” says Dann. “You can’t double-deck [camels in trucks] like you can with cattle, and we’re 1,500km from the Port of Adelaide and 2,000km from abattoirs in Sydney.” Perhaps he should consider the kangaroo trade: the industry for Australia’s iconic macropod is worth AU$270m a year.

Dirty money

Solomon Islands [POLITICS]

Israel’s foreign ministry has leaked details of an offer allegedly made by Iran to the Solomon Islands of $200,000 of “technological aid”. It accuses Iran of trying to buy the support of the underprivileged Pacific nation in UN votes – the Solomon Islands backed a recent report accusing Israel of war crimes during the conflict in Gaza. “It isn’t exactly bribery,” says Dr Amnon Aran, lecturer in international politics of the Middle East at London’s City University. “But the Solomon Islands would not constitute any use for Iran other than its vote.” The country is not the only small state in the region to be courted by big foreign powers. China, the US and Australia are all busy chasing business and strategic links there.

Baby breach

Fiji [MIDWIVES]

Pregnant Fijian women might find it easier to dial Qantas instead of an ambulance. There are now more Fijian midwives and nurses in Australia and New Zealand than there are back home, with over 1,800 helping deliver Antipodean babies, compared with just 1,660 in Fiji. Like many Pacific nations, the country is suffering a health worker talent drain.

Bad punchline

Australia [BEHAVIOUR]

A study published by the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology has found that male Australian teenagers are more violent than their American counterparts. Four thousand teenagers were interviewed in both countries; 17.5 per cent of the Australian sample admitted to aggressive behaviour, compared with 12.6 per cent in America. “There is a great emphasis on being tough among young Australian men,” says Paul Wilson, chair of criminology at Queensland’s Bond University.

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