A Comprehensive Guide on the Bactrian Camels of the Gobi Desert of Mongolia

Bactrian camels have two humps as opposed to their Arabian ancestors' single hump. The humps work in a similar way, accumulating fat that may be converted to water and energy when food is scarce. The Bactrian Camels' famed ability to travel for long periods of time without water, especially in severe desert settings, is due to these humps. The humps grow floppy and flabby as their fat stores are drained.

Bactrian camels

Quick Facts about the Bactrian camel

  • The grey wolf is the only natural predator of Bactrian camels.
  • Only a few hundred to a thousand are thought to be left in the wild.
  • Bactrian Camels are the only land mammals that can drink salt water without becoming ill.
  • Bactrian Camels can consume up to 57 liters of water in one sitting.
  • Bactrian Camels do not store water in their humps, contrary to popular belief
  • To keep sand from getting up their nose, Bactrian Camels have sealable nostrils
  • Bactrian and Dromedary camels can be distinguished by their humps, which spell out ‘B' and ‘D,' respectively, when the camel is turned upright.

Changes in the Environment

Bactrian camels reside in the stony deserts of Central and East Asia, not in the shifting sands of the Sahara. In the summer, the temperatures in these areas can reach over 100°F. In the winter, though, temperatures can dip to –20°F. To survive in such a harsh environment, Bactrian camels have acquired particular adaptations. One is a thick, shaggy coat that keeps them warm in the winter but sheds when the seasons change and the temperature rises.

Bactrians, like Arabian camels, rarely sweat, allowing them to conserve fluids for extended periods of time. Plants may produce enough moisture in the winter to keep a camel alive for several weeks without water.

Camels, on the other hand, soak up water like a sponge when they are refilled. Thirty gallons of water can be consumed by a thirsty animal in just 13 minutes.

Bactrians' noses close to keep sand out, and their bushy eyebrows and two rows of long eyelashes shield their eyes, just like Arabian camels. They can cross the hard rocky terrain and changing desert sands without collapsing under their own vast bulk or the weight of hefty bundles thanks to their large, flat footpads.

The Only Wild Camels That Exist

Bactrian camels are the only fully wild camels that still exist. These herds can be found in Mongolia and China's Gobi Desert.

The Bactrian camel is one of the world's most versatile animals. They can survive tremendous temperature changes, making them perfect for their natural habitat in Northern Asia. They can withstand temperatures that range from +40°C in the summer to -30°C in the winter.

Their two humps function in the same way that a single humped, or dromedary, camel's do. The humps are fat storage regions. They convert fat into energy and can go for long periods of time without food or water.

Conservation of the Critically Endangered Species

Bactrian camels are a severely endangered species in the wild. There are considerable genetic changes (3%) between the wild and domestic groups, according to research. The domesticated variety is not considered endangered because its population looks to be thriving.

Within the next three generations, the population of wild Bactrian camels is expected to drop by more than 80%. Mongolia's subpopulation has shrunk by 46% since 1985, according to estimates based on scientific research, while the precise population size has yet to be determined.

The Mongoloian subpopulation is predicted to lose 25-30 animals every year due to hunting and other predators such as wolves (Canis lupus). The future of wild Bactrian camels appears to be in jeopardy based on these developments.

The conservation efforts for the wild form are concentrated on a small population in China/Mongolia that does not breed with farmed camels. The paucity of opportunities to hybridize between domestic and wild species is a major factor to their conservation status due to genetic differences.

Reproduction And The Breeding Season

The dominant male of both camel species is polygynous, meaning he will mate with any of the females in the herd. Rutting season lasts around three months. The dominant male would frequently protect and guard the group's females from other travelling bachelor camels. However, no published studies have looked into how the group's alpha male is chosen. Males battle, bite, spit, and snort to intimidate and scare away intruding males during the mating season.

The breeding season for the Bactrian camel takes place in March and April. Camels are induced ovulators, meaning they only ovulate when they are sexually stimulated. The ovarian follicles of a female who does not have the opportunity to mate will deteriorate. Their estrous cycle lasts 13 to 40 days, with receptivity lasting three to four days. The gestation period is 360-440 days, with one or two offspring. Camels can have up to two calves every two years, although more than that is uncommon.

The Female Bactrian Camel

In her lifespan, each female produces an estimated 12 offspring after this biennial cycle. Calves weigh roughly 37 kg when they are born and are completely mobile within the first 24 hours. Calves in the wild are normally weaned after two years, however this can happen in captivity in as little as one year. The calf reaches complete maturity at the age of five, though males may take up to eight years. Males are more likely to reach sexual maturity before the age of five than females. Calves stay near to their moms for three to five years before sexually maturing and moving away.

The female camel puts a lot of effort into her parenting responsibilities, and she does so until the calf reaches sexual maturity. The mother weans the calf within the first two years, yet both mother and youngster remain quite close. Most young camels remain with their mothers until they attain sexual maturity at the age of five. Calves learn how to communicate with other herd members, as well as food seeking capabilities and migratory patterns. Female camels are fiercely protective of their offspring and will attack if they are threatened. Mother camels have been observed mourning the loss of a calf for up to three months due to this bond.

The Total Lifespan Of The Bactrian Camel

Bactrian camels have been reported to live in the wild for up to 50 years. Domesticated camels, on the other hand, have never been known to live more than 35.4 years. Wild Bactrian camels have a life expectancy of 30 years. There is a paucity of scholarly research on any internal or external difficulties that may contribute to some of the apparent lifetime restrictions.

Behavior Of The Wild Bactrian Camel

Wild Bactrian camels usually live in herds of 6-20 individuals, but they can sometimes be solitary or in groups of up to 30. A population density of five camels per 100 square kilometres has been estimated in their native area. Camels do not have a territorial instinct. Multiple camel herds will occasionally cross paths, forming a camel assembly of up to 500 individuals. Camel herds spend the most of their days grazing and travelling from one location to the next. Bactrian camels travel to the Gobi desert steppe, a large ecotone that borders several rivers, during the snowy winter months. Bactrian camels return to the desert as the snow melts in the spring.

One alpha adult male leads adult females and their calves in the herds. The alpha male pursues young men away after they attain sexual maturity, compelling them to join a group of bachelor men. If a wandering bachelor male approaches a female in the group, the dominant male will chase the intruder away.

The Bottom Line:

Bactrian camels have a highly developed sense of sight, which is one of the most important ways they assess their surroundings.

Bactrian camels are gregarious creatures. These animals are not territorial, and herds frequently collide to create a huge group.

Bactrian camels are omnivores, though they are mostly herbivores who graze on grasses all day long. These camels have four stomachs, one of which is a three-chambered ruminating stomach, as ruminants. Ruminants chew their food twice before regurgitating it, allowing them to chew it again.