- Scientific Name:
- Camelus bactrianus
- Park Location:
- Gobi Desert & Asia
- Desert, Grasslands
- Camels can close their nostrils and have really long eyelashes to protect themselves from sandstorms.
- In the desert camel dung is used for heating during cold nights.
- Camels have two layers of eyelashes to make sure no sand gets into their eyes.
This is a two-humped camel. They are found in the Gobi desert and the grasslands (steppes) of Asia. The temperature extremes of its natural habitat mean that the camel is able to withstand very hot days and freezing cold nights.
These hardy mammals are herbivores, feeding on grass, leaves and grains - preferring dry, prickly, salty and bitter food. They have very strong mouths that can eat thorns! The camel can live up to 30 years, grow to over 7 feet (2 metres) at the hump and weigh more than 1540 pounds (725 kilos).
The two humps on the camel’s back contain fat which the camels use as nutrition when food and water are scarce. A camel can go for a very long time without food and water. When they do drink they only ‘top up’ their existing reserves, but even so this can mean them drinking 32 gallons (120 litres) of water at a time!
Camels live in groups, called caravans, with dominant male and related females. There can be up to 30 individuals within a caravan. Calves are born after 12 - 14 months' gestation and are independent after one year. Females stay with the group while males migrate away to start their own caravans after five years.
Wild Bactrian camels have been heavily hunted for their meat and hide for centuries. Today, only a few highly isolated populations survive. These camels continue to be persecuted mainly as they are seen as competition with domestic livestock for the precious water and grazing of the desert. Governments are now working together to protect the habitat of the Bactrian camel and a breeding programme in Mongolia has been set up to try and safeguard the future of these amazing animals.