Central Australian traditional landowners have given permission to cull wild horses west of Alice Springs, after rangers shot 55 struggling animals last month and found dozens more already dead.
Aboriginal rangers from the Central Land Council found 90 dead and dying brumbies at a dried-up waterhole about 20km from the remote Santa Teresa community.
The council has also received approval to undertake an aerial cull of another 120 horses, donkeys and camels it says are dying of thirst near another remote community and are in too poor a condition to help.
Alice Springs newspaper The Centralian Advocate reports that the cull is scheduled to take place this week in a 3182 square kilometre area on the Ntaria, Roulpmaulpma and Ltalaltuma Aboriginal land trusts.
“It is important to get the informed consent of the traditional owners of the Aboriginal land trusts we support,” said CLC director David Ross.
“With climate change well and truly upon us, we expect these emergencies to occur with increasing frequency.”
Central Australia endured more than two weeks of temperatures above 40C last month with maximum daily temperatures still regularly above 35C.
Horses and other feral and native animals are dying of thirst and hunger because of normally reliable water sources drying up.
Areas overpopulated by feral animals also suffer erosion and vegetation loss.
There is a large population of brumbies in the Northern Territory which are descended from introduced domestic horses that strayed or were let loose in Australia by English settlers.