The camel is a large, strong desert animal. Camels can travel great distances across hot, dry deserts with little food or water.They walk easily on soft sand where trucks would get stuck, and carrypeople and heavy loads to places that have no roads.Camels also serve the people of the desert in many other ways.The camel carries its own built-in food supply on its back in the form of ahump.The hump is a large lump of fat that provides energy if food is hard to find.
There are two chief kinds of camels: (1) the Arabian camel, also calleddromedary, which has one hump, and (2) the Bactrian camel, which has twohumps.In the past, hybrids (crossbreeds) of the two species were used widely inAsia.These hybrid camels had one extra-long hump and were larger and strongerthan either of their parents.Camels have been domestic animals for thousands of years.Arabian camels may once have lived wild in Arabia, but none of them live inthe wild today.There are several million Arabian camels, and most of them live with thedesert people of Africa and Asia.The first Bactrian camels probably lived in Mongolia and in Turkestan, whichwas called Bactria in ancient times.
A few hundred wild Bactrian camels may still roam in some parts ofMongolia, and over a million domesticated ones live in Asia.Scientists believe that members of the camel family lived in North Americaat least 40 million years ago. Before the Ice Age, camels had developed into a distinct species and hadmoved westward across Alaska to western Asia.In Asia, two groups separated and gradually became the two chief kinds ofcamels known today.Meanwhile, smaller members of the camel family had moved southwardfrom North to South America.Today, four members of the camel family live in South America: (1) alpacas,(2) guanacos, (3) llamas, and (4) vicunas. By the time Europeans went toNorth America, no members of the camel family had lived there for manythousands of years.
The first dromedary (one-humped) camel was imported into Australia in1840.This ill-fated animal took part in an expedition into the northern part ofSouth Australia.It was destroyed after accidentally causing its owners death. Later, largenumbers of camels were imported into Australia for exploration and stationwork in the arid interior.About 250,000 camels still roam wild in the central Australian deserts.
seasonal sexual activity occurs in both the males (Bulls) and females (Cows).Increasing daylight is believed to activate the breeding urge.
Sexual activity can commence at 2-3 years, however the first calf is not normally bornuntil the cow is 5 years old. Breeding continues on an average every 2-3 years until the cow is 20 years old.The average cow produces 8 calves. Pregnancy length depends on the season, (foodavailability, stress, etc.)Varying from approximately 374 days (12.5 months) to 419 days (14 months). Ovulation is induced by coitus (mating) and the average cycle is 27 days.
Bulls become sexually mature at 3-4 years.In Australia mature bulls commence rutting around August to October.The rutting bull will return from the bachelor herd to dominate the cowherd and anyother males in the area.Alternatively he will drive off some of the cows and establish his own harem.The length of an individual Camels rut varies from 2-4 months depending on, hisnutritional state and dominance.Periods of rut are nutritionally and physically demanding and severe weight lossoccurs.This has the effect of ceasing the rut of that bull and consequently several dominantbulls are active throughout the breeding season.
The birth weight of calf is between 30-40 kg. Weaning weight at 1 year is about 150-180 kg, and mature weight is 500-600 kg. on average, reached at 6-7 years.The weights of mature Camels processed at the Wamboden Abattoir, Alice Springs,have ranged from 514-635 kg. for bulls and for cows 470-510 kg.Animals of an estimated 5 years of age had a live weight of approximately 340-430kg.
Camels are browsers, with a split upper lip well suited to this purpose.They are normally selective feeders and eat the freshest vegetation available.In a study carried out by Doerges and Heuckes, on Newhaven station, they observedthe Camels ate 81.5% of the available plant species. Grasses are eaten primarily afterrain, and before herbs and forbs are available.At times when the moisture content is high Camels can exist for several monthswithout drinking water.They do however perish in drought, where there is no surface water and the moisturecontent of plants is low. Wild Camels are mobile feeders and frequent remote salt lakes where plants high inelectrolyte and moisture are present.
Domestic or yard fed Camels need a diet high in bulk.They are quite adaptable to the gradual introduction of supplementary and pelletizedfood to their diets. In the wild, or feral state they search for plants high in salts. In a yarded situationaccess to salt is thus considered essential.
Australia is free of most of the serious diseases of Camels.Quarantine restrictions imposed during the import period, 1866-1907, effectivelyprevented the introduction of, surra, foot and mouth, and other major diseases. Importation of Camels into Australia ceased due to the detection of foot and mouth incamels headed for Australia from Pakistan in 1907.The main disease problems are mange (scabies), nasal bots and abscesses due toCorynebacterium sp.Test on several hundred, controlled and uncontrolled Camels at the N.T. GovernmentVeterinary Laboratories showed that both, the wild and local herds are free from,Tuberculosis, Brucellosis, Trichomoniasis, Vibriosis, Johnes diseases and Liver Fluke.
A female camel carries a single young, called a calf, inside her body for about 13months before giving birth.The calfs eyes are open at birth, and a thick, woolly coat covers its body.The calf can run when it is only a few hours old, and it calls to its mother with a soft"baa" somewhat like that of a lamb.The young camel and its mother live together for several years unless they are forciblykept apart.When a calf is about a year old, its owner begins to teach it to stand and kneel oncommand.The young camel also learns to carry a saddle or small, light packs.The size and weight of the packs are gradually increased as the camel grows older.
A 5-year-old camel can carry a full load.Camels can go for days or even weeks with little or no food or water. Desert peoplefeed their camels dates, grass, and such grains as wheat and oats. In zoos, the animals eat hay and dry grains--about 3.5 kilograms of each every day.When a camel travels across the desert, food may be hard to find.The animal may have to live on dried leaves, seeds, and whatever desert plants it canfind.A camel can eat a thorny twig without hurting its mouth.The lining of the mouth is so tough that the sharp thorns cannot push through theskin.
The Camels LifeThe lining of the mouth is so tough that the sharp thorns cannot push through theskin.If food is very scarce, a camel will eat anything--bones, fish, meat, leather, and evenits owners tent.A camel does not chew its food well before swallowing it.The animals stomach has three sections, one of which stores the poorly chewed food.This food, or cud, is later returned to the mouth in a ball-like glob, and the camelchews it.The chewed food is then swallowed and goes to the other parts of the stomach to becompletely digested.Camels, deer, cattle, and other kinds of animals that digest their food in this way arecalled ruminants.
A camel can go without water for days or even months. The amount of water a cameldrinks varies with the time of year and with the weather.Camels need less water in winter when the weather is cool and the plants they eatcontain more moisture than in summer.Camels that graze in the Sahara can go all winter without water and may refuse todrink if water is offered to them.But a large, thirsty camel can drink as much as 200 litres a day.This water is not stored in the camels body but replaces water previously used up.A camel needs little water each day because it gets some moisture from its food.Also, it keeps most of the water that is in its body.
The Camels LifeAlso, it keeps most of the water that is in its body.Most animals sweat when hot, and the evaporation of the water from their skin keepsthem cool. But camels do not sweat much.Instead, their body temperature rises by as much as 6 Celsius degrees during the heatof the day and then cools down at night.In people, an increase of only one or two degrees is a sign of illness.On extremely hot days, a camel keeps as cool as possible by resting rather thanfeeding.It may lie down in a shady place or face the sun so that only a small part of its bodyreceives the suns rays.A group of camels may fight off heat by pressing against each other, because the bodytemperatures of the camels may be lower than the air temperature.
Camel Rides are now available all over Australia, from Broome to Burnie and Cairns toKangaroo Island.There are over 40 Camel Farms operating in Australia to primarily to target the touristtrade, providing Camel rides and Safari Treks.On Camel Safaris, the distinctive landforms of the Australian Countryside, the wildlifeand the serenity, allows the tourist a unique opportunity to enjoy and understand theenvironment.
Camel milk has similar chemical characteristics to cattle milk. The period of lactation is longer than cattle, however the daily production is lower.The advantage of Camels is that in arid or marginal areas, the Camel needs little or nosupplementation for milk production as verses full supplementary feeding andhusbandry for cattle. Milk is either consumed fresh or used to produce yoghurt or cheese.
Wool is an important Camel by-product in many Camel- producing countries. The average wool clip of males is 3.28 kg. and 2.10 kg. for females. Fiber diameter is 12-27 microns and the length ranges from 4-12 cm. Dromedary wool processes a number a valuable technological properties such aslow heat conductivity, softness and strength.From Camel wool a wide range of warm fabrics are manufactured.
Processing of Camels for meat destined for human consumption commenced in Australia in 1988 at Wamboden Abattoir, Alice Springs and demand for meat has steadily risen. Camel meat is a lean meat protein source.It is high in protein and low in fat.More information on the development of the camel meat industry can be found atCamels Australia Export website
The first commercial tanning was undertaken in 1992, facilitated by the CICS and Wamboden Abattoir. The hide needs to be split in half so the hump section can flatten to enable tanning through commercially available machines.Hides have been tanned both as "Fur On" to form skins and "Fur Off" as leatherVegetable tanning produces soft leather for the craft and tourism industries.Vegetable tanning produces soft leather for the craft and tourism industries. It has been shown that camels hides are very strong with a pulling strength 5 timesgreater than cattle hides.Currently Camel leather is being made into Hats, riding boots and ladies fashiongarments
Millions of people who live in Africa and Asia depend on camels to supply most of theirneeds.In lands at the edge of the deserts, camels pull ploughs, turn water wheels to irrigatefields, and carry grain to market places.Deep in the deserts, camels are almost the only source of transportation, food,clothing, and shelter.In turn, camels need people to fetch water for them from wells if they are to survivethe hot summers.Camels work hard for people, but their behaviour is unpredictable. Bactrian camelsmay spit at people, and all camels can kick.Camels may groan and bawl when they are loaded and have to rise to their feet.But they routinely carry loads of up to 150 kilograms for eight hours.
They can carry more but do so unwillingly. Usually, camels work only six months of theyear.If too much is demanded of them, they will die from over exertion.Camels are an important source of food in the desert.People eat the meat of young camels, though it can be very tough.They melt fat from the animals hump and use it as butter.People drink camels milk and also make cheese from itThe camel also supplies wool and leather for clothing and shelter.Camel owners weave the animals soft, woolly fur into fine cloth and warm blankets.The long fur of the Bactrian camel is especially good for weaving into cloth.
Arabs use the cloth for much of their clothing, and they also make tents from it.Camels hair cloth is sold in many parts of the world for making blankets, coats, andsuits.The strong, tough skin of the camel provides leather for shoes, bags, and saddles.Dried camel bones can be carved like ivory for jewellery or utensils. Camel droppings are dried and used for fuel.
Perhaps nowhere else on earth is more associated with the camel than the ArabianPeninsula.Their story is not one of a free population; however, but of a domesticated animal. Throughout history, Arabian camels have served the needs of humans, and havebenefited from that service as a species.Humans have in fact assured the survival of camels for thousands of years and quiteliterally led them to success as a species that they probably would never have had ontheir own.The camel has played such an important role in Arab culture that there are over 160words for "camel" in the Arabic language. The geography and climate have combined to define an entire culture with the camelat its core.This certainly must be seen as high praise of this remarkable animal.
As early as 1800 BC, trade routes from Asia and Africa crossed the Arabian Peninsulacarrying spices, incense, gold, ivory, and silk on their way to Europe and the lands of theFertile Crescent.Camels were used by the Nabateans in the first century BC, on their way from the Gulfof Aqaba to the trading capital of Petra in central Jordan.Camels were used by the Bedouin, whose warriors formed the nucleus of the Muslimarmies that conquered the Byzantine and Persian Empires in the 7th century AD.War, trade, and civilization -- all riding on the back of a hump.
Camelids are believed to have originated in North America. One group travelled via the Northern land bridge at the Baring Straight and fromthere to the Middle East and Africa.Another grouping developed into Lamas Varieties as they moved to South America.The first Camel in Australia was imported from the Canary Islands in 1840.The next major group of Camels came out in 1860 for the ill-fated Bourke and Willsexpedition.The first time the explorer Giles used Camels he travelled 220 miles in eight dayswithout giving water to the Camels.He later went from Bunbury Downs to Queen Victoria Springs, Western Australia(W.A.), a distance of 325 miles in 17 days and gave one bucket of water to each Camelafter the 12th day.
The 1891 expedition by Lindsay and Wells covered 510 miles in 34 days.They only gave their Camels 4 gallons of water each.Camel studs were set up in 1866, by Sir Thomas Elder at Beltana Station in SouthAustralia (S.A.).Stud Camel farms were also prominent in W.A. These studs operated for about 50years and provided high-class breeders for the general population of Australian Camels.Working Camels bred in Australia were of superior quality to those imported.Imports continued until 1907, from India and Pakistan, as there was a need for largenumbers of cheap Camels.An estimated 10,000 to 12,000 Camels, imported into Australia between 1860 and1907, were used as draft and riding animals by people pioneering the dry interior.
Camel teams consisting of approx. 70 Camels and 4 Afghans travelled between 20 to25 miles a day in desert country.The teams would carry between 16 to 20 tons approx on their backs.A large bull Camel was expected to carry up to 600kg and the smaller beasts from300-400kg.Camels were used in Australia in the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line,carried pipe sections for the Goldfields Water Supply, the supply of goods to InlandTowns, Mining Camps, Sheep and Cattle Stations and Aboriginal Communities.Wagons hauled by Camels moved wool from Sheep Stations to Railheads, pulled,scoops in the construction of dams and ploughs and other implements on farms. Theuse of Camels was mainly used in the "Dry Areas" of Australia.With the introduction of motorised transport in the 1920s, the days of "WorkingCamels" were numbered.
DISTRIBUTIONThe estimated population of camels in Australia is 150,000 and 200,000 and aredistributed through-out the arid interior of Australia. Approximately 50% in WesternAustralia (W.A.), 25% in Northern Territory (N.T.), and 25% in Western Queensland andNorthern South Australia.The Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory (CCNT) conducted, in 1993, anaerial survey in Central Australia.This survey indicated approx. 50,000 Camels through out the region, being 50% morethan that indicated in a survey 8 years earlier.Individual Camels fitted with satellite tracking collars have been found by the CCNT, toroam over areas of 60,000 sq. km. and travel 50 km per day.The worldwide population of Camels is thought to be 17 million in 1982, being 15million Dromedary and 2 million Bactrian.
The things camels do are remarkable, but the conditions under which they do themare truly amazing.Wild Bactrian camels were thought to be extinct until an expedition discovered a smallpopulation in the Gobi Desert in 1957.Human impact on their environment, hybridization, hunting, predation by desertwolves, and extermination due to competition with livestock herds have pushed wildBactrian camel populations to the edge of extinction. Today wild Bactrian camels are endangered, some estimates, put their number at 400to 700 animals in Mongolia and 200 in China.By comparison, there are over 2 million domestic Bactrian camels living on everycontinent around the world.Bactrian camels were domesticated by 2500 B.C. in Bactria, present-day northern Iranand northeast Afghanistan.
Domesticated Bactrian camels had spread to parts of southern Russia by 1700-1200B.C., and Western Siberia by the 10th century B.C. By 300 B.C., they were used in Chinaon the original "silk route."An adult Bactrian camel stands 6-7.6 ft. high (180-230 cm) at the shoulders. From thetip of their nose to their tail is 10 ft. (300 cm), plus theyre tail length of 20 in. (50 cm).An adult camel weighs 1320-2200 lbs. (600-1000 kg) .The two humps of fat on a Bactrian camel weigh about 72 lbs. (32.7 kg) each andcreate a natural saddle for the rider.Their lifespan is between 25-45 years.During the winter, Bactrian camels have a shaggy dark brown or beige coat, which issheds in large sheets when warmer temperatures come in the spring.A Bactrian camel can carry a load of up to 600 pounds over rough terrain at about 40miles per day.
Camels prefer to walk; however, they can run at a speed of 10-20 mph (16-32 kph).They have excellent eyesight and smell, which can make wild camels hard toapproach.Although water is scarce, Bactrian camels are fairly good swimmers.Life in the Gobi Desert is a study in extremes. During winter, temperatures can drop as low as -22°F (-33°C). During summer,temperatures may reach as high as 122°F (50°C).Bactrian camels inhabit the steppes and desert plateaus of the Gobi desert in Xinjiangprovince China and parts of Mongolia. In the winter time camels can gather enough moisture from the plants they eat to goas much as 50 days without water. They can also eat small amounts of snow.However, in the summertime they may only go 5 days without water.To learn more about the camels amazing ability to store water click here.
Though camels are often identified with the deserts of Arabia (the dromedary) or thesteppes of eastern Asia (the Bactrian), four of the six members of the Camelidae familyare found in South America.The South American llama (Lama glama), alpaca (Lama pacos), guanaco (Lamaguanacoe), and vicuna (Vicugna vicugna) may be further distinguished as domesticated,i.e., llama and alpaca, or as wild animals, i.e., guanaco and vicuna.Like their Arabian and Asian counterparts, the South American camels have the abilityto survive arid climates through their capacity to take water from their body tissueequivalent to 30% of their entire weight.Unlike the Bactrian and the dromedary, South American camels do not have humps;but, they do share the characteristic Camelid distinguishing trait of padded feet ratherthan hoofs-- to keep them from sinking into drifting sand-- as well as uniquely, ovalshaped red blood cells-- to allow for the expansion of the cells without rupturing, whenthe Camelid drinks large amounts of water.
Evidence suggests that both the llama and alpaca were bred by the native people ofthe Andes from the guanaco or the vicuna-- the alpaca for its light, silky, warm,hypoallergenic fleece, and the the llama for its beast of burden capability of carrying 25to 30 per cent of its body weight.Docile in temperament, the llama was used as a pack animal by the Incas.Llamas are two to three times the size of an alpaca, and an alpaca stands about 36inches (91 cm) at the withers (between the shoulder blades) with a weight between 100to 175 pounds (45-80 kg).Alpaca population estimates were, in 1972, in Peru: 2,000,000, in Bolivia: 50,000;and, in 1996, in North America: less than 8,000.The market value of an alpaca, in 1997, was between $8,500 and $25,000 per animal.At one time, alpaca fibers were allowed only to be worn by Inca royalty.As precious a commodity as the alpaca have been, it is interesting to note that a largedog costs about as much to feed per day as an alpaca, and one acre provides enoughspace to easily raise five to ten alpacas.
The camel is an important animal component of the fragile desert eco-system.With its unique bio-physiological characteristics, the camel has become an icon ofadaptation to challenging ways of living in arid and semi-arid regions.The proverbial Ship of Desert earned its epithet on account of its indispensability as amode of transportation and draught power in desert but the utilities are many and aresubject to continuous social and economic changes.The camel has played a significant role in civil law and order, defense and battlesfrom the ancient times till date. The world famous Ganga-Risala of erstwhile Bikaner State was accepted as ImperialService Troup and participated in World War I and II.The camel helped the engineers while constructing the Indira Gandhi Canal in Westernpart of Rajasthan.
Presently, the camel corps constitutes an important wing of Border Security Force ofIndian Para-Military Services.Considering the importance of camel in the socio-economic development of arid andsemi-arid zones, the Government of India established a Project Directorate on Camel atBikaner (India) on 5th July 1984 under aegis of Indian Council of Agricultural Research(ICAR) which was upgraded to National Research Center on Camel (NRCC) onSeptember 20, 1995.Since the distribution of dromedary camels in India (516828 heads) is confined to thearid and semi-arid areas of North-western India spread out in parts of Rajasthan,Gujarat and Haryana, the NRCC is focusing on basic and applied research on onehumped camel (Camelus dromedarius).The center is also focusing issues of double humped camel (Camelus bactrianus)found in the cold desert of Nubra Valley of Laddakh region.