Conservation of Mongolia’s Wild Camels

The critically endangered wild camel survives only in Mongolia and China. With an estimated population of less than 1,000 now remaining in the wild, it is one of the most endangered large mammals on the planet. Many factors threaten its survival, including habitat loss and degradation, desertification due to climate change, and hybridisation with the domestic Bactrian camel. Little is known about this species, so vital research is required to better understand these threats and how they are impacting populations.

Photograph of a camel on the steppes in Mongolia

Why we are there

ZSL’s Institute of Zoology (IoZ) is closely involved in the wild camel project and, along with our conservation partners and other research institutions, is aiming to provide the scientific evidence necessary to inform a management plan for the species in Mongolia. In Mongolia wild camel are only found within the Great Gobi Special Protected Area A.

An initial PhD programme will gather some of the information required to understand the threats wild camel face. Our research programme includes genetic evaluation of inbreeding levels within the captive population, remaining genetic diversity in the wild remnant population and levels of hybridisation across both. We are also working to obtain a better estimate of how many camels occur in the Great Gobi Special Protected Area A and how they use this area. Deriving this simple, yet crucial, information is enormously difficult given the scarcity of the camels and the vastness of their habitat. 

Photograph of three camels on a hillside in Mongolia

This collective body of work will significantly enhance the understanding and conservation of this critically endangered species.

Impact

  • Co-developing a species management plan for critically endangered wild camel in Mongolia.
  • Reducing the probability of extinction of the critically endangered wild camel.
  • Promoting wild camel as an umbrella species to protect many other threatened Gobi desert species.
  • 1 PhD studentship

Project Information

Key Species

Wild Camel (Camelus ferus)

The wild camel is only found in Mongolia and China. It is the only species of extant wild camel left and is critically endangered.

People involved

Dr John Ewen
Dr Marcus Rowcliffe
Dr Sam Merson (ZSL Conservation & Policy)
Anna Jemmett

Partners & Sponsors

Partners: Wild Camel Protection Foundation (WCPF), DICE University of Kent; ZSL Mongolia; WCPF Mongolia Prague zoo; Knowsley Safari Park

Sponsors: Wild Camel Protection Foundation, Prague zoo

News & Blog links

www.wildcamels.com