Endangered Species: Wild Bactrian Camels

by - October 31, 2016

Wild Camels: did you know there's only around 1,000 left? Take a minute to think about how few that is. That's around the same number of people who went to my secondary school. 

Of course there are more than 1,000 camels in the world, but not WILD camels. They are a separate species that live in China and Mongolia. Their species is one of the most critically endangered mammals on the planet. 
Some facts about wild camels are that they are specially adapted to drink salt water. This enables them to survive in the Gashun Gobi part of the Gobi desert, China. The wild camel survived the effects of radiation from 43 atmospheric nuclear tests, and continued to breed naturally. The absence of fresh water meant they adapted to be able to drink salt water. No one conclusively knows how to this day. They migrate over huge distances in pursuit of salt water sources. They can also survive extreme temperature differences, from -40 to 55 degrees celsius. 
The main reasons Wild Camels are threatened that I'm going to talk about are hunting, competition for grazing, mining, and predation by wolves. 

Loss of habitat is a big threat to the wild camel. The have lost their habitat to mining and industrial development. This obvious threatens their survival as a species as they are forced to compete for food, and restrained to a smaller and smaller area. As well as each other, they have to compete with livestock and even domestic camels for food and water. This has led to farmers hunting them for threatening the survival of their livestock. When the camels migrate and leave protected areas, many of them are lost each year. Inbreeding among these domestic camel is also cause of worry, as this could lead to a the loss of the genetically distinct wild camel. Hunting is often considered the greatest threat to wild camels. In the Gobi desert, around 25-30 camels are poached each year for "domestic use"; but they are also hunting for sport and trophy. 
The only predators nowadays of these camels are gray wolves. Reports of predation by wolves on camels have increased in number due to increasingly dry conditions. 
The species are listed under Appendix I, and so in theory received relatively high levels of protection. The Chinese and Mongolian governments are cooperating to protect the species and it's habitat. The Gobi desert is a fragile ecosystem, and so this cooperation is critical, and they have adopted an ecosystem-based management programme to protect the Gobi desert and it's biodiversity. 
Two reserves were created in 2000: 'The Great Gobi Reserve A' in Mongolia, and the 'Arjin Shan Lop Nur Reserve' in China. They provide a safe habitat for the wild camels, and a vast range of other species living in the area. 
Captive breeding has also been explored as a way to prevent a genetic loss of the pure wild camel species. In 2003, a sanctuary in Mongolia was stared to lung a breeding programme, which has had several successful cases. 

Check out wildcamels.com for more info on camels, and how we can help!
This post is dedicated to my mum, who loves wild camels, and wants to see them saved. 

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