Wild Bactrian Camel
Location: steppes of central Asia
The wild Bactrian camel is extremely well adapted for the harsh desert climate that it inhabits. Sandstorm damage is reduced by the dense eyelashes and the narrow nostrils that can be closed tightly against the storms. The two toes are connected with an undivided sole and are able to spread widely, allowing the camel greater ability to walk on sandy ground. Camels feed mainly on shrubs; their humps act at as a rich fat store that allows them to go for long periods without food.
Wild Bactrian camels have been heavily hunted for their meat and hide over the centuries, and today only a few highly fragmented populations persist. 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. Competition with domestic camels and livestock as well as hybridisation with domestic camels poses a further threat to the survival of the unique Bactrian camel.
Areas of the Gobi and Gashun Gobi desert (Lop Nur), where the Bactrian camel remain, are protected by the Great Gobi Reserve (est. 1982) in Mongolia, and by the newly established national reserve ‘Lop Nur Wild Camel Reserve’ in China. The Wild Camel Protection Foundation began a captive breeding program in Mongolia.
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