Dromedary camel – the living desert

Did you know that the dromedary camel, also known as the one-humped camel, is only known as a domesticated animal and has no wild ancestors?

In Egypt, they have been used as pack animals for 5000 years! In the Western Karakum, a special breed called the Turkmen pack camel is raised. These camels are one of the largest and most cold-tolerant one-humped camels, but they can’t tolerate cold as well as their two-humped relatives. However, they can withstand heat better and can carry almost twice as much weight.

Camels are incredibly adaptable to desert life and can survive without water for long periods. They use water from their bodies to maintain a constant level of water in their blood. Even if their blood thickens due to significant water loss, their oval-shaped red blood cells can still move through the blood vessels, ensuring their survival.
Nomadic cultures in harsh environments like deserts have relied on camel milk for centuries as a source of nutrition. The milk contains many nutrients that are important for overall health.

The milk has a lot more iron and vitamin C than cows’ milk and is sometimes used in Kazakhstan to help treat illnesses such as tuberculosis. In fact, if you visit Abu Dhabi, you’d be able to pick up a milkshake with real camel milk.

Despite what we’re led to believe, camels don’t store gallons of water in their humps like a portable well. Their humps are actually used to store fat, which they can live off for weeks, sometimes months! When food is scarce, camels will break down the fats in their humps to use as a source of nutrition. In fact, if a camel hasn’t eaten in a while, then its hump will start to droop as the fat stores empty.

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