Arabian camel

No more true wild animals: all are domesticated or escaped from stock

Florian Prischl

Commonly referred to as the dromedary, it is a remarkable testament to nature’s ingenuity, demonstrating extraordinary adaptations that allow it to thrive in some of the most inhospitable environments on Earth. Its singular hump is a distinctive feature that sets it apart from its Bactrian relatives.

The hump of the Arabian camel is not merely a peculiar physical characteristic; it serves a crucial biological function. It stores up to 31 kg (70 pounds) of fat, which the camel can metabolize into energy and water during times of scarcity. This remarkable adaptation allows the Arabian camel to traverse vast desert expanses without immediate food or water sources, making it an indispensable companion for nomadic peoples and travelers in arid regions.

Another fascinating aspect of the Arabian camel’s physiology is its ability to regulate body temperature. Unlike most mammals, which maintain a relatively constant body temperature, the Arabian camel’s body temperature can fluctuate significantly throughout the day. This unique thermoregulatory mechanism enables the camel to conserve water by avoiding sweating during the hottest parts of the day.

Despite their historical ubiquity across the Middle East and North Africa, true wild populations of Arabian camels no longer roam these landscapes. Their domestication, which dates back thousands of years, has been so extensive that it has effectively replaced wild populations with domesticated herds. These animals have been integral to human societies in desert regions, providing milk, meat, leather, and transportation and playing a central role in trade and cultural exchanges across desert frontiers.

Interestingly, the only remaining feral populations of Arabian camels can be found on an entirely different continent: Australia. Introduced in the 1840s to aid in exploring the Australian interior, Arabian camels have since established wild populations, thriving in the continent’s vast desert regions. These feral herds have adapted well to the Australian outback, demonstrating the camel’s remarkable versatility and resilience.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Australia
2004
Introduced
Eritrea
2004
Ethiopia
2004
India
2004
Pakistan
2004
Somalia
2004
Sudan
2004
UAE
2004

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No

Arabian camel on banknoes

Sudan – 5 Piastres (1987)

Djibouti 1000 Francs (1979)

Egypt 1 Egyptian Pound

Morocco 100 Dirham