Camels (1-31)

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In the camelidae family, there is a camel with the scientific name of camelus bractianus which lives mainly in Asia and has two humps, and a dromedary called camelus dromaderus which lives mainly in Africa and has a single hump.

Before our time, between the 3rd and 4th millennia, man began to domesticate this species for its meat, as well as its capacity to work and transport people in arid regions. Despite its not very common appearance, it’s an extremely durable species which can tirelessly travel through steppes and deserts.

The animal weighs about 700 kgs, is about 2 metres tall, has long legs to keep it away from the heat of the sun and large feet, with 2 toes, to stop it from getting stuck in the sand. Its buccal cavity is very strong and not very sensitive, which helps it eat prickly plants without getting hurt. It can also close its nostrils to protect itself from the sand.

It walks in a very original manner, because it alternatively walks with both feet on one side of its body, then both feet on the other! This is called a "rotary walk".

The ship of the desert

Its diet consists mainly of leaves - it can reach even up to 3 metres to get at them - as well as grass and grains. It takes about 8 hours every day to feed and can stock surpluses in its hump in the form of fat.

This reserve is useful in case of hard times, because during the dry season a camel can lose up to two hundred kgs…
 

When a camel needs to drink and a water source is nearby, it regularly absorbs small quantities. But when water is scarce, it can go for one week without drinking.

Take note, it will catch up the first opportunity it gets, and is capable of swallowing up to 120 litres of water at one sitting, in less than 10 minutes, what a thirst!

Nature is wonderful, so as not to waste the precious liquid, the camel does not sweat and uses the fat in its hump to regulate its energy needs. If it is deprived of food and/or water, it can even lose a third of its weight without dying.

A perfect example of adaptation to a hostile environment!

The camel is also used for racing in the Persian Gulf and these exceptional animals can be worth a fortune. Underage children are used as jockeys, which endangers their lives as they can fall down.

Sensitised by international public opinion on this matter, it appears that the Sheikh owners of stables often housing thousands of camels have decided to find alternatives.

Not really fast, but really very tough

The female camel is called a cow. In terms of reproduction, the gestation period lasts for 13 months and a camel can have a young one every two years.

It gives birth standing up or in a crouching position. The baby camel’s front feet are the first to appear. As soon as it comes into the world, it is important for the calf to feed from its mothers breast, because the first milk (the colostrum) helps it to develop its immune system and be protected against numerous diseases.

The mother camel keeps her little one with her for about one year and has an infallible method of recognising it amongst others…

It’s not its appearance, nor its colour, nor its size, nor its crying that it will use to identify its young one, but its smell!

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