There are less than 1000 wild Bactrian camels left in the wild today.
IUCN Red List classification
Although this animal is probably the ancestor of all domesticated Bactrian camels, which number in the millions, there are less than 1000 wild camels left on the planet.
These wild camels are further split into 4 populations living in Southern Mongolia and China. In the Mongolian population, which lives in the Gobi desert, there are estimated to be less than 500 individuals remaining.
These animals are superbly adapted to life in the desert: they have a double row of extra-long eyelashes, hairs in their ears, and can close their nostrils to prevent damage during sandstorms, their extra-large feet spread wide to allow them to travel efficiently through the sandy desert, and their thick-woolly fur allows them to remain warm in -40°winter temperatures, and sheds in summer when temperatures may reach +40°C.
- Wild Bactrian camels were first domesticated over 5000 years ago.
- Bactrian camels can drink 57 litres (over 100 pints) of water in a single drinking session.
- Camels can drink salt-water to quench their thirst without suffering any ill-effects. They are the only land-mammals that can do this.
- Camels’ humps are a way of storing fat which acts as an energy reserve when times are hard and food and water are scarce. The Bactrian camel can last for several days without food or water thanks to this energy supply.
- The Bactrian camel has two humps whereas the Arabian Camel, or Dromedary, only has one. To help you remember which is which, turn the first letter of their names on a side, and ‘B’ has two humps, whereas ‘D’ only has one.
Due to its unique evolutionary history, the Bactrian camel is an EDGE focal species . As the species distribution includes both Mongolia and China we have EDGE fellows in both of these countries.
In Mongolia, Adiya works in the Greater Gobi Strictly Protected Area working to understand more about the relative impacts of different threat processes, such as habitat loss, hybridization with domestic camels, hunting and drought on the camel population.
Using this information we hope to develop and implement a conservation action plan for the species.