Sydney - Australian police were on Thursday hunting for leads after a pet camel called Noodles was shot and decapitated at an outback farm, possibly by a trophy hunter, depriving the owner of his "best mate".
Neale McShane, an officer at the remote Birdsville police station in Queensland, said the camel was killed at a cattle station outside the town, on the edge of the Simpson Desert 1 590km west of Brisbane.
"An unknown person called the camel, Noodles, over - and he went because he was a friendly camel and he thought he was probably going to get a scratch," he said.
"But they put a bullet through his head and then decapitated him with a saw and took the head away, we think as a trophy."
He said the camel, which apparently earned its name after taking a peculiar interest in anyone crunching two-minute noodle packets, was well-known in the area.
Worst in two years
"We don't get too much crime out here," said McShane of the outpost that is best known for the annual Birdsville Races, when the population of 100 swells to around 6 000.
"This is the worst in at least two years."
The camel's owner Shawn McCulloch, who has spent the past four years attempting to make an epic journey on foot with the aid of camels from Brisbane in Australia's east to Broome in the west, said he was devastated.
"He was my best mate - we had some great times, he made me laugh, he would sit down next to my tent, so he was well-loved and well-cared for," he told ABC radio.
"I made sure he had the best of grains and the best of hay, and the best of lucerne [high quality hay]. We don't know, we probably will never ever know why they decided to cut his head off or shoot him, we don't know why. It just doesn't make sense."