The camel, a two-humped desert mammal


Resistant to the extreme temperatures of the highlands ofCentral Asia, the camel represents a precious good for the people nomads. The animal allows them to transport heavy goods on the impassable tracks of regions devoid of road infrastructure. He is sometimes confused with his cousin African the dromedary which has only one hump!

Domesticated for millennia

The Bactrian Camel (Camelus bactrianus), also called the two-humped camel, is a herbivorous mammal belonging to the order Artiodactyla and the family of camelids. Bactria or Bacteria is one of the areas where domestic camels were once commonly bred. For 4,500 years, the animal has in fact been used as a beast of building, milk and also provides a source of milk, meat and oldest boy. Its feces can also be used as combustible in areas where wood is scarce. The Bactrian camel lives throughout Central Asia, from Iran to China via Mongolia and especially in the gobi desert. In these regions, it frequents the steppes and semi-desert areas, whether in the plains or at altitude.

The amble pace of the camel

The camel is distinguished above all by the presence of two bumps on its back against only one for the dromedary. Its thick, woolly coat comes in dark brown, black and beige tones. His neck stretched out and strongly curve draw a U down, so that his head is at shoulder level. The camel measures between 1.80m and 2.30m (without the bumps) and weighs up to 1 ton (the female does not exceed 600 kg). Its stocky, rounded body leans on hind legs that are taller than the front ones. His lateral gait, called amble, makes it move by simultaneously lifting both legs on the same side.

Bumps of fat for the camel

The physiological and anatomical characteristics of the camelid allow it to live for a long time without food or water. Its two bumps, covered with thick skin, consist of fat gathered around muscle fibers. Each can hold up to 12 kilos, representing a nutrient reserve that provides it with lipids in the event of famine. When the fast lasts, the bumps gradually empty and hang to the side. The camelid is also extremely resistant to dehydration, up to losing 20% ​​of its water weight without feeling any physical problems. When it finds a water point, the animal drinks abundantly by swallowing more than 120 liters in a quarter of an hour.

The camel, creature of the desert

The constitution of the Bactrian camel allows it to face conditions extreme climatic marked by very hot and dry summers and harsh winters and snowy. Its coat and behavior help it to cope with variations in temperatures going from + 40 ° to -25 °. During hot weather, the glands sweat spread over the surface of his body produce sweat which refreshes him. In the event of intense cold, the animal covers itself with a long and thick fleece. Her long legs are resting on her feet. flat pads and soft that facilitate its movements on sandy and snowy terrain. When the wind of sand blows hard, the camel closes its nostrils while her eyes are protected by eyelids bordered by a double row of long eyelashes intertwined.

Frugal meal for the camel

Undemanding, the camel consumes what it finds in its path: plants, bushes, shrubs, including thorny which he tears off with his powerful lips. It feeds while walking and never stops for long: the vegetation desert being very sparse, the herbivore grazes a bite then leaves. The mammal particularly appreciates salty plants and stones of rock salt which prevent him from dehydration. On the other hand, he does not drink salt water.

The camel, a gregarious animal

Good swimmer, the camelid is a modest runner who can reach a top speed of 25km / h over a short distance. Above all, it is his ability toendurance that set it apart. The animal can indeed carry up to 250 kg of goods over more than 40 km in one day. The social structure of the camelid is based on the principle of the harem. The camel lives mainly in family groups of 6 to 30 individuals headed by a male dominant and including several females and their young. During the breeding season, the herds gather up to a hundred heads.

Fighting to the death before mating

During the mating season, the males are very belligerent. They urinate frequently to mark their territory and confront each other in violent fights by biting strongly on the neck or head. With canines that can reach 5 cm long, the bites often follow one another until dead follows. The periodic renewal of the dominant male thus contributes to limiting the risks of consanguinity.

Very resourceful, the chamelon

The winner of the jousting mates with his partner taking a squatting position. Every two years, after 12 to 14 months of gestation, the female gives birth to a single offspring, an average of eight in her lifetime, a very high reproduction rate. weak. The camel weighs 25 to 50 kg and measures approximately 1.20 m. In the first hours of his life, the newborn looks for udders kindergarten then learns to get up. The next day, he is able to follow his mother and join the herd. the weaning occurs after one and a half to two years.

The domestic camel is not in danger

The adult camel knows few predators. Main danger, the grey Wolf of Mongolia mainly attacks weak subjects or young people left unattended. the tiger has long been a threatens for the camelid but the two species no longer share the same territory. The domestic camel is not considered endangered. Its long life expectancy is between 60 and 70 years old.