To enforce protection of the wild Bactrian camel's habitat in Great Gobi A Special Protected Area, Mongolia, and work with local communities to reduce their impact on wild camels and their habitat.
The wild Bactrian camel only occurs in a few fragmented populations in northwest China and southwest Mongolia. This two-humped camel is superbly adapted to the harsh Gobi Desert, where vegetation is sparse, water sources are limited and temperatures range from -40°C to 40°C. Individuals eat thorns and dry, salty plants, which other herbivores avoid. They can go for several days at a time without nourishment, and when accessing a water source, can drink up to 57 litres in one go. Wild camels and their relatives differ from all other mammals because they have oval-shaped (instead of circular) red blood cells. They produce a protein in their milk that may be used to treat diabetes in humans, and they’re the only land mammals that can drink salty or brackish water, apparently with no ill effects.
Formerly widespread across the deserts of Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan, the wild Bactrian camel now exists in small, fragmented populations, with the global population estimated to be fewer than 1,000. Surviving populations live in a hostile landscape; their continued existence threatened by illegal mining, competition for scarce resources with introduced livestock and disease transmission.
EDGE has supported two Fellows to collect information on the relative impacts of habitat loss, hunting, hybridisation with domestic camels, poisoning and drought on wild Bactrian camels in Lop Nur National Nature Reserve, China, and Great Gobi Special Protected Area A in Mongolia. The information collected is informing the development of a long-term conservation strategy that will provide benefits to both the wild camels and the human inhabitants of the harsh desert ecosystem.