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Bactrian camel

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Bactrian camel
Bactrian Camels resting.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Camelus ferus

Group of Bactrian Camels.jpg
Group of Bactrian Camels

The Bactrian Camel (Camelus bactrianus) is a mammal and one of two species of camels in the world. It has two humps as opposed to its one-humped Arabian relatives. This animal is native to Central Asia. It is very well-adapted to its environment. Its body features allow it to endure the harsh climates it resides in. The camel is known for its humps, which contain fatty tissues to allow it to endure long periods of time without sustenance.[2]

One factor that differentiates the two species of camels is their habitats. Bactrian camels do not live in the Sahara desert but in Central and East Asia’s rocky deserts. They persevere extremely hot temperatures in the summer and cold temperatures in the winter. They have special features that help them thrive in such brutal conditions, such as nostrils that close, bushy eyebrows, long eyelashes, big footpads, fat-storing humps, even toes, and shaggy coats. When camels drink water, they can drink 30 gallons in only 13 minutes. The only existing wild camel species is the Wild Bactrian Camel (Camelus ferus).[2]

Body Design

There are two humps on the Bactrian Camel's back

The Bactrian Camel is a tall (about 7 feet) and heavy (about 1250 pounds) animal that carries two back humps containing fatty tissues to sustain the camel during times with no food or water. The humps may shrink and become contracted when the camel does not have access to sustenance for a long period of time. [3] The animal’s heavy coat protects it during cold seasons and is shed during the warmer seasons. Their bushy eyebrows, abundant eyelashes, ears lined with hair, and nostrils that close on command, protect the camels from the harsh desert environment of sand and winds.[4]

The camel’s resilient even-toed feet allow them to travel the Asian deserts even in snow or sand.[4] The camel’s two toes are connected to an undivided sole and can spread far to help the camel walk on sand. Characteristic to the camel is its body features, such as its long curved neck, long legs, and split upper lip. These qualities of the Bactrian Camel help it adapt to the rough desert climate that it inhabits.[5]

Life Cycle

Male Bactrian Camel and baby are standing in front of the cave together

Camels mature sexually five years after they are born. [6] Sexual reproduction may occur seasonally. At birth, offspring may weigh about 66 to 110 pounds. [7] Calves can stand almost immediately after being born and stay with the mother until they are mature.

Females are pregnant for 12-15 months before they give birth to a single calf. [6] Pregnant females may separate from the herd of camels to form a herd of pregnant females.[7] Female camels bear new young only every other year and may nurture a calf for several years.

Wild Bactrian camels live in family groups including a dominant male, several females, and offspring. The dominant stallion may become moody and compete for females with other stallions. The wild Bactrian lives for about 30 years or more. [3] Interbreeding may also occur with its relative, the Arabian camel. [7]


Bactrian Camel is eating the branches and grass

The bactrian camel is a diurnal animal which sleeps at night in open areas and forages for food during the day. The majority of the camel’s diet is shrubs and grass; however, the animal is well-adapted to eating thorns, dry vegetation, and salty plants. The camel’s body stores excess fat in the humps to use when food is scanty, enabling the camel to go for days without eating or drinking. When they do find water, they will drink great sums of it (57 liters of water) and very quickly to replenish the water missing from their bodies. If they cannot find clean water, they drink salty or murky water, adapted to the conditions of the desert environment. [5] Some species found in Asia travel through desert that varies from rocky mountains, flat areas, stony plains, fringed oases, and sand dunes. [8]

The camels are organized in groups which depend on the amount of food that is available. Usually they travel in groups of about 6 to 20 related individuals, led by a dominant male. The population density of camels is low (5/100 sq km). Camels are migratory and travel great distances to find food and water. [5] The Bactrian camel is native to China and Mongolia, but there are very few (less than 1000) in the wild and is a critically endangered species. The Bactrian camel’s ecology and the root of the decline are not well-understood. Therefore, there are different projects and programs in place to help the endangered species. [9]


People are riding Bactrian Camels at the Gobi Desert, China. People love to use them because they are useful and helpful.

There are about 600 wild Bactrian camels in China and about 350 in Mongolia. Though there are approximately 2 million domestic Bactrian camels living in Central Asia, the wild Bactrian Camel is genetically distinct from the domesticated Bactrian Camel. The wild Bactrian Camel’s population size is on the decline and classified as “Critically Endangered” on the 2010 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This species often dies at the cost of mining and industrial development and has been forced to compete with foreign livestock for food and water. Some farmers even hunt the camel. Since the Domestic Bactrian camel is among the animals introduced to the grazing areas, there is concern that interbreeding may lead to the loss of the genetically different wild camel. [10]

The Chinese and Mongolian governments have decided to cooperate in order to protect the species. The Wild Camel Protection Foundation assists the two governments in adopting programs to protect the camels of the Great Gobi Desert. They have built reserves to provide safe environments for the endangered animals. There are many other programs in place to save the species such as the Conservation of the Wild Bactrian Camel in China; Ecology & Conservation of Wild Bactrian Camels in Mongolia; ZSL, EDGE Fellowship programme; and more. [10]


Informations about the Bactrian Camels.


  1. "Wild Bactrian Camel Videos, Photos and Facts." ARKive. Arkive, n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2016. <>.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Bactrian Camels, Bactrian Camel Pictures, Bactrian Camel Facts - National Geographic." National Geographic. National Geographic, n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2016. <>.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Sharp, Jay. "The Wild Bactrian Camel." The Wild Bactrian Camel. Desert USA, n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2016. <>.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Bactrian Camel." Bactrian Camel. Alaska Zoo, n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2016. <>.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Wild Bactrian Camel." Camelus Ferus. Arkive, Nov. 2004. Web. 25 Jan. 2016. <>.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Bactrian Camel." (n.d.): n. pag. Denver Zoo. Denver Zoo. Web. 25 Jan. 2016. <>.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Life-Cycle." UW Lax. BioWeb, n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2016. <>.
  8. Hare, John. "Camelus Ferus." Camelus Ferus (Bactrian Camel, Two-humped Camel, Wild Bactrian Camel). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 30 June 2008. Web. 25 Jan. 2016. <>.
  9. "Bactrian Camel: Ecology and Conservation Research, Mongolia." Minnesota Zoo. Minnesota Zoo, n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2016. <>.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "EDGE of Existence." EDGE of Existence. EDGE of Existence, n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2016. <>.