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Camels (extant/living species; Camelus spp.): Distribution & Habitat

Camels (Camelus spp.)

Distribution

  • Early camels ranged from Asia to Eastern Europe.
  • Some crossed into Africa, expanding across northern Africa and as far south as northern Tanzania.
  • Wild Bactrian camel: 3 separated regions in China, 1 in Mongolia (click here for IUCN distribution map)
    • China
      • Gashun Gobi, in Gansu
      • Taklamakan Desert, in Xinjiang (this population may now be extinct)
      • Arjin Shan Lop Nur Nature Reserve' (est. 2000) and adjacent northern slopes of Arjin Shan mountains
      • Great Gobi Reserve A (est. 1982) and adjacent areas (Reading et al., 1999; Mix et al., 2002; Wang et al., 2002)
    • Mongolia
      • Trans Altai Govi Desert (Mix et al., 2002; Yadamsuren et al., 2004; Yadamsuren & Dovchindorj, 2005)
        • Foothills of the Edren Range to Shiveet Ulaan
        • Hükh Tömörtei Range to the state border
  • Domestic animals have been introduced throughout the arid and semiarid regions of the world.
    • Domestic Bactrian camel
      • Cold desert regions of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China.
    • Dromedary
      • Hot arid deserts of Africa and Middle East
      • Most in Somalia and Sudan.
      • A large feral population of dromedaries exists in Australia
    • Archeological finds indicate that both the dromedary and domestic Bactrian camel were imported into northern provinces of the Roman Empire for military and civilian use (Pigière & Henrotay, 2012).

Habitat

Habitat of domestic camels

  • Domestic animals have been introduced throughout the arid and semiarid regions of the world.
    • Domestic Bactrian camel
      • Cold desert regions of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China.
    • Dromedary
      • Hot arid deserts of Africa and Middle East Most in Somalia and Sudan.
      • A large feral population of dromedaries exists in Australia
    • Archeological finds indicate that both the dromedary and domestic Bactrian camel were imported into northern provinces of the Roman Empire for military and civilian use (Pigière & Henrotay, 2012).

Habitat of wild Bactrian camel

  • Desolate mountain and desert areas
    • Rocky mountain massifs
    • Deserts: flat pavement-like expanses, sand dunes
    • Oases fringed with poplars (Populus)
  • Sparse vegetation
    • Plants include: Haloxylon, Caragana, Salsola
  • Large temperature range
    • Up to 60-70°C (140-160°F) in summer
    • Down to -30°C (-22°F) in winter
  • May inhabit areas with no freshwater
    • Adapted to drinking saltwater slush, which domestic camels will not touch.

 

Camel Distribution

Camel distribution map

Wild Bactrian camels, C. ferus, are restricted to a small part of China and Mongolia.

Adapted from www.d-maps.com according to IUCN fact sheet. Click here or on map for detailed distribution (IUCN).

Page Citations

FAO (2008)
Hare (2008)
Mix et al. (2002)
Pigiere & Henrotay (2012)
Tulgat & Schaller (1992)
Yadamsuren et al. (2004)
Yadamsuren & Dovchindorj (2005)

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