Bactrian Camel

Bactrian Camel

Mongolian wild camel

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Camelus bactrianus
Population size
950
Life Span
40-50 yrs
TOP SPEED
64 km/h
WEIGHT
300-1.000 kg
HEIGHT
180-230 cm
LENGTH
225-350 cm

The Bactrian camel is most famous for its two large humps on its back rather than the single-humped dromedary camel. A camel's hump does not serve a reservoir for water, contrary to popular belief. Instead, it contains energy-rich fat, which a camel metabolizes for energy when there is little food available. Due to its efficient metabolism, a Bactrian camel can last for months with no water. And when it does drink, it can consume as much as 30 gallons (113 liters) of water in one go.

Distibution

The Bactrian is a native of the steppes in eastern Asia. In the wild its range is limited to remote parts of the Gobi Desert of Mongolia and the Taklamakan Desert of China. A small number still roam in southwest Kazakhstan in the Mangystau Province, and in India in the Kashmir Valley. Deserts and dry grasslands are their primary natural habitat.

Bactrian Camel habitat map

Geography

Continents
Subcontinents
Countries

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Wild Bactrians are active in the daytime, looking for food, and at night they sleep in an open space. Camels that have been domesticated travel across the desert in caravans. The wild camels are highly migratory, herds traveling huge distances in search of water and food sources. In the autumn, herds of up to 100 animals may gather at the start of the rutting season, typically in the more mountainous areas where there is greater availability of water. At other times, family groups consist of 6 to 30 animals with a dominant male as the leader. Bactrian camels are good swimmers. They have a well-developed sense of sight, and their sense of smell is also extremely good.

Diet and Nutrition

Bactrian camels are herbivores and can eat plants that are prickly, dry, salty, and/or bitter, but they like any kind of vegetation. If other food is not available, they may eat bones, other animals' skin, and different kinds of flesh. They may eat sandals, ropes and even tents in more extreme conditions.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
Autumn
PREGNANCY DURATION
13 months
BABY CARRYING
1-2 calves
INDEPENDENT AGE
3-5 years
FEMALE NAME
cow
MALE NAME
bull
BABY NAME
calf

Bactrian camels are polygynous animals, which means that one male mates with multiple females. Dominant males will defend groups of females against other males during the breeding season, which occurs in the fall. The males during this time tend to be violent and may spit, bite or try to sit on other males. Gestation lasts for 13 months, with most calves born in March and April. One calf is usually produced but occasionally there are two. Females can give birth every other year. The calf is precocial, with the ability to stand as soon as it is born and to walk within just a few hours. The young calf remains for between three and five years with its mother, until it is sexually mature, at 3-4 years of age for females and 5-6 years old for males.

Population

Population threats

Bactrian camels are threatened by habitat loss through developments such as gas pipes and very toxic illegal mining. Further threats are competition for precious water and grazing in the desert with livestock and domestic camels, as well as hybridization with domestic camels.

Population number

IUCN Red List gives the data for the year 2004 with approximately 600 individuals in China and 350 in Mongolia. Currently Wild Bactrian camels are classified as critically endangered (CR) with decreasing population trend.

Domestication

The Bactrian camel is believed to have been domesticated in southwestern Turkestan or northeast Afghanistan sometime before 2500 BCE.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Bactria, where the camels distinctive name comes from, was an ancient country where northeastern Iran is now.
  • To be able to withstand sandstorms Bactrians can close their nostrils, and they have long eyelashes to keep sand out of their eyes, bushy eyebrows and thick hair on the inside of their ears.
  • Bactrian camels have featured in artwork throughout history. As an example, western foreigners who came from the Tarim Basin and other places were depicted in many ceramic figurines from the Chinese Tang dynasty (618–907).
  • Bactrian camels will hardly ever sweat, and this enables them to conserve water.
  • The two wide toes on each of their feet have undivided soles that can spread widely, being adapted to walking on sand

References

1. Bactrian Camel Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bactrian_camel
2. Bactrian Camel on The IUCN Red List site - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/63543/0

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