Learn About Camels!



Camels or otherwise known as Camelus dromedarius is an even-toed mammal that primarily lives in the desert, steppe, or prairie. There are three species of Camels currently, the one-humped dromedary, the two-humped Bactrian camels, and wild Bactrian camels. The only non-domestic camels left, as their name suggests, are wild Bactrian camels (Camelus Ferus). The differences between the Camelus Ferus and the domestic Bactrian camel are small but enough to classify them as different species. Wild Bactrian camels are usually described as smaller and more scrawny than their domesticated counterparts, their humps are lower and more of a cone shape. 


Wild Bactrian camels have become endangered due to hunting, loss of habitat, and competition with other livestock food. In their habitats, the Gobi Desert (northern China) and Mongolia, people are building illegal mining operations. It is estimated that there are less than 1,000 wild Camelus Ferus as of 2022 with numbers continuing to decrease and it is estimated that they will go extinct within the next 40-50 years. The Wild Camel Protection Foundation plans to do something about this.


The Wild Camel Protection Foundation (WCPF) is located in the UK and America as a non-profit organization. It was established in 1997 even before the wild Bactrian camels were classified as endangered by IUCN in 2002. Their goal is to protect the Camelus Ferus and its habitat and is the only charitable environmental Fondation with an exact goal. In 2000, WCPF hosted an International Camel Comerfence in Beijing with the Deputy Minister of the MNET and the Vice Minister of the Chinese State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) in attendance. They came to the agreement to cooperate and protect the wild Bactrian camel. A letter of intent saying that both countries agreed to work together in protecting both the fragile desert ecosystem and the camel, exchanging relevant data with one another was signed. WCPF has also worked with the offices of the Convention of Migrating Species to educate China and Mongolia with the knowledge of the Camelus Ferus, increasing its importance to the public.


Camels originate from a continent they do not live in anymore, on the western side of North America. Before many of their species went extinct camels had many variations, such as the Paracamelus and the Camelops. They first developed in the Eocene period (3.2-4.0 billion years ago). They migrated to Eurasia about 7.5 to 6 million years ago and slowly went extinct in North America. They evolved to be able to survive in both extreme heat and extreme cold. The hump(s) on their backs exist in adult camels to help store fat, and to go longer without food. Water is stored in their blood for less of a chance of dying of thirst, even though it sounds disgusting, another way to conserve water is by urinating less than average. Camels have long eyelashes to protect their eyes and elongated nostrils that can close to protect their face from blowing sand. 


Camels have also evolved to have leathery pads on their feet and knees, so they can stand and lie down without being burnt by the hot sand. A camel’s thick coat would help them survive in cold weather, it also has insulation to help them in the heat.


 There is no doubt that camels are fascinating creatures helping us humans evolve in society and have such an interesting history and adaptations to their habitat. If you are interested to learn more about camels I recommend taking a look at the following websites.


The Camel Caravans of the Ancient Sahara


The World History Encyclopedia talks about how camels helped with transportation in the trans-Saharan trade route during the 7th to 14th century.


Old World camels in a modern world


Nation Library of Medicine talks about both the evolution of camels but also their biology


Wild Camel Protection Foundation 


Click here to learn more about the WCPF’s goals, achievements, and more facts about wild camels.