Animals in Mongolia - Bactrian Camel

Animals in Mongolia - Bactrian Camel

Animals in Mongolia - Bactrian Camel

Animals in Mongolia - Bactrian Camel (Camelus bactrianus) is a large even-toed ungulate native to the steppes of north eastern Asia. It is one of the two surviving species of camel. The Bactrian Camel has two humps on its back, in contrast to the single-humped Dromedary Camel.


Nearly all of the estimated 1.4 million Bactrian Camels alive today are domesticated, but in October 2002 the estimated 950 remaining in the wild in northwest China and Mongolia were placed on the critically endangered species list.

There is some evidence that the Bactrian Camel can be divided up into different subspecies. In particular, it has been discovered that a population of wild Bactrian Camel lives within a part of the Gashun Gobi region of the Gobi Desert. This population is distinct from domesticated herds both in genetic makeup and in behavior.

There are possibly as many as three regions in the genetic makeup that are distinctly different from domesticated camels and there is up to a 3% difference in the base genetic code. However, with so few wild camels, it is unclear what the natural genetic diversity within a population would have been.

Canadian researcher William Sommers found that these wild camels had the ability to drink saltwater slush, although it is not yet certain the camel can extract useful water from it. Domesticated camels do not attempt to drink salt water, though the reason is unknown.

The Bactrian Camel was identified as one of the top-10 "focal species" in 2007 by the Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) project. EDGE identifies species that are evolutionarily distinct and need better protection to prevent extinction.

The Bactrian Camel was placed in the top-10 along with Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew, Sir David's Long-beaked Echidna, Hispaniolan Solenodon, Yangtze River dolphin, Slender loris, Hirola, Pygmy Hippo, Bumblebee bat, and the Long-eared Jerboa. There are only hundreds of them in the wild and the population is decreasing, but a large captive population has been kept.

Animals in Mongolia - Bactrian Camel

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