It is hardly possible
to visit Sinai without seeing camels. Although Beduines
do also use cars nowadays, throughout history camels have
always been used for transport and much more. These animals
can store enormous quantities of water and are in a position
to bare long trips through the desert without drinking.
Lets have a closed look:
Although the camel family is larger and more varied than
most people realize, we would for now like to distinguish
between the Camelus Bactrianus and the Camelus
The Camelus Bactrianus
is a double humped Bactrian Camel which
inhabits the Gobi desert. Bactrian camels
in Asia, there are only a few hundred left.
The Camelus Dromedarius
is a single humped Arabain Camel.
This animal - which is the one that we are describing from
now on - is a special breed, used for riding and transport,
although the name is wrongly used for the Arabian
Camel. However, this camel is not known to exist
as a wild animal. The exact range of the Arabian Camel
will probably never be known. The species exists only in
the domesticated state today in Arabia and has been introduced
into other regions of the world.
The name "Dromedary" is properly
reserved for the Arabian racing camel such as those used
in the various military camel corps. These
camels can travel 80 to 120 miles per day carrying a rider.
Arabian baggage camels are heavier build and capable of
carrying a 200 kg load up to 40 miles per day.
The Arabian Camel measures head and body length
approx 10 feet, the shoulder height is about
6-7 feet. Weight: 1000-1500 pounds. The body
is carried on long, slender legs ending in two toes beneath
which is a broad, callous and elastic pad. Neck and head
are both elongated. The upper lip is deeply cleft. Tails
are short tail, eyes are heavily lashed,ears are haired,
and nostrils are slit-like. Coloration of camels is fawn
or beige the coat is smooth and shorter than that of the
Bactrian Camel, but equally woolly.
For camels, everything is adapted for life
in the desert. Feet are broadened to walk
on sand. The huge feet of camels help them to walk on sand
without sinking into it. A camel's foot can be as big as
a large plate.
protect eyes from wind-blown sand. Nostrils
close to keep sand out. Lips are thickened to
withstand the coarsest of desert plants. Coloration
matches the environment. Callouses are present
on knees and other parts of the body that touch the hot sand
when the animal sits down. Hump is a flesh mound
not supported by bones. A reserve of fat (not
water) is stored in the hump. Hump size varies with food supply
and working conditions. They are able to drink brackish
or salt water. Camels exhibit unusual tolerance for dehydration.
Most animals perish when 20% of their body weight is lost.
Camels survive a 40% loss of body weight without serious consequences.
Heavy fur and the fatty hump serve to insulate the body, preventing
body temperature from rising to the sweating point (the major
cause of water loss). When water again becomes available,
camels are able to restore their body water quickly; Camel,
come to terms with the heat by letting their body temperature
rise and regulate their heat by losing water through sweating
and panting. They must also take advantage of any available
shelter or shade; camels, for instance, will position
their bodies in relation to the direction of the sun,
so the smallest amount of body is hit by the rays of sun.
sand gets into an eye, a camel has a third eyelids to get
it out (B). Like a windshield wiper on a car, this extra eyelid
moves from side to side and wipes the sand away. The eyelid
is very thin, so a camel can see through it. In sandstorms,
camels often close their third eyelid and keep walking. You
might say that a camel can find its way through a sandstorm
with its eyes closed.(Planet
winds often blow sand into the air. To protect their eyes,
camels have long eyelashes (A) that catch most of the sand.
keep sand from blowing into their noses, camels can shut their
nostrils. When there is no sand blowing in the wind, a camel
can open its nostrils (A) and breathe through its nose.
When the wind starts to whip up the sand, the camel just closes
its nose (B). (Planet
head has built-in sun-visors to help keep the bright sunlight
out of its eyes. There are broad ridges of bone above each
eye. These stick out far enough to shield the eyes when the
sun is overhead. The ears of camels are small to make it harder
for sand to get in them.(Planet
Camels have played an enourmous part in the lives
of many people for at least four thousand years, mainly
because camels have the ability to live in places where
other large animals could not survive. Camels can eat practically
everything that grows in the desert, even salty plants rejected
by other grazers. When hungry, they will eat fish,
meat, bones and skin.
Diet in captivity includes hay and grains
plus vitamin and mineral supplements.
The stomach is divided into three chambers
that are filled with a very bad smelling liquid. A legend
says that, if desperate enough and lost in the desert, a
man could drink this substance to save his life.
The camel is capable to drink one third of its body weight
in 10 minutes. However, it will only do so after great dehydration.
In these ten minutes a camel will grow from being very thin
to its normal condition.
During rutting season, the male protrudes a fleshy fold
from his mouth and emits a loud, unpleasant roar. A single
calf, rarely two, is born after a gestation period of 13
months. The calf can move freely by the end of the first
day. The mother nurses the young for one year. Maturity
is at 3-5 years. Life span is 30-40 years. Females may breed
every other year.
Fossil remains indicate
that the camel family originated in North America.
Only Guanacos and Vicunas may
be found wild in the New World today. Llamas
and Alpacas have been domesticated. Camels
exist only in the domesticated state in Africa
and Asia. The Arabian Camel has
been successfully introduced into Australian
desert regions while attempts to introduce them into southern
Europe and North America have
Camels run like a giraffe with both legs on
one side of the body moving simultaneously. The resulting
rocking, shuffling gait gave rise to the term "Ship of
the Desert". Camels have been used as beasts of burden
for centuries. They are known for their loathing of men and
forms of work and spit foul-smelling stomach
contents when annoyed. Arabs utilized almost every portion
of the body: tents are made of camelhair cloth,
the flesh of a young camel is said to taste
similar to veal, the camel's milk is nutritious
and cheese is also made from it. The skin makes
good leather. Dried bones are substituted for ivory. Dung
is burned as fuel on the desert. In Arabic language,
there are about 160 words for the camel.