Eritrea, Anseba: Gerdik. Camel-driver. © 2006 Didier Ruef Eritrea, Anseba: Gerdik. Camel-driver. © 2006 Didier Ruef

Camel Power

Camels are almost entirely domesticated, providing milk, meat and transport. There are two living species: the single-humped dromedary and the double-humped bactrian.

The humps are not full of water as commonly believed, they are in fact made up of fatty deposits that still help with water storage, so camels can survive life in extremely hot and arid deserts.

Being able to withstand long periods without water, and some extreme changes in body temperature, allows camels to survive in conditions that would be lethal to most other animals

Dromedary camel

Dromedary camels account for about 90% of the world’s 15 million camels. The other being the two-humped bactrian camel. These beasts of burden are now considered domesticated except for a wild population that was introduced to the Australian outback in the mid-19th century, principally as draft animals. Life in the hot and arid desert requires some remarkable adaptations, from being able to stand a 30% loss of water to drinking 100 litres of water in just 10 minutes

Australia’s camels

Australia’s mulga country, or bush, is a dense woodland of acacias, ghost gums and bloodwoods, all rooted in the outwash of the Central Ranges. Most woody shrubs are thirsty and demanding but these tough plants have flourished despite the dry soil and some unwelcome invaders. In the 1880s, camel trains were the only way to cross the desert. But once roads were built, the camels were abandoned and are now feral. With no natural predators they have thrived here and Australia is now the only country where one-humped camels live in the wild.

In the breeding season males do their best to mate with as many females as they can. They do this by frothing at the mouth and inflating their dewlaa – a sac on the roof of their mouth. It looks grotesque, but it is obviously attractive to the females and intimidates other males. When two bulls fight, it can get very serious as they use their necks to try wrestle each other to the ground. Over half a million camels now roam the Central Ranges and they are now considered serious pests.

Camel survival

From Hottest Place on Earth

Dromedary camels are the key to the Afar peoples’ ability to survive in the Danakil Depression of Eritrea and Ethiopia – officially the hottest place on Earth. These hardy animals can survive for days without water and can tolerate temperatures that would kill a human. Steve Leonard does the clever thing and makes friends with one at the first opportunity

BBC (edited by Editorial Team)

By Editorial Team

Fatal error: Uncaught Error: Call to undefined function get_field() in /homepages/33/d157462911/htdocs/relaunch/wp-content/themes/newsy/content.php:64 Stack trace: #0 /homepages/33/d157462911/htdocs/relaunch/wp-includes/template.php(503): require() #1 /homepages/33/d157462911/htdocs/relaunch/wp-includes/template.php(477): load_template('/homepages/33/d...', false) #2 /homepages/33/d157462911/htdocs/relaunch/wp-includes/general-template.php(171): locate_template(Array, true, false) #3 /homepages/33/d157462911/htdocs/relaunch/wp-content/themes/newsy/single.php(18): get_template_part('content', '') #4 /homepages/33/d157462911/htdocs/relaunch/wp-includes/template-loader.php(74): include('/homepages/33/d...') #5 /homepages/33/d157462911/htdocs/relaunch/wp-blog-header.php(16): require_once('/homepages/33/d...') #6 /homepages/33/d157462911/htdocs/relaunch/index.php(17): require('/homepages/33/d...') #7 {main} thrown in /homepages/33/d157462911/htdocs/relaunch/wp-content/themes/newsy/content.php on line 64