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Camels (extant/living species; Camelus spp.): Population & Conservation Status

Camels (Camelus spp.)

Population Status

Some camels are common

  • FAO data – more than 22 million worldwide, per WRI EarthWatch database
    • Majority are dromedaries (more than 15 million)
      • Most in Somalia (7 million) and Sudan (4 million)
      • Ethiopia and Kenya also have substantial numbers
    • 700,000 feral animals in Australia are becoming a problem

Some camels are rare

  • Wild Bactrian camel
    • About 950 individuals (Hare 2005)
    • About 600 in China
    • About 350 in Mongolia (a decrease from about 650 in 1985)

Conservation Status

Wild Bactrian camel (C. ferus):

IUCN

  • Critically Endangered (2008 assessment) (Hare 2008)
  • Past assessments
    • 2002, 2007: Critically Endangered
    • 1996: Endangered
    • 1986-1994: Vulnerable

CITES

  • Not listed (UNEP 2019a, 2019b)

Endangered Species Act

  •  

Threats to Survival

  • In Mongolia, 25 to 30 Wild Bactrian Camels are being killed annually when they migrate across the international border into China (subsistence/sport hunting by locals).
  • In China in the new Arjin Shan Lop Nur Nature Sanctuary, up to 20 Wild Bactrian Camels are killed annually by miners and hunters for subsistence use.
  • Wolves are their principal non-human predator.
  • Drought has reduced number of oases, making wolves more successful predators.
  • For 45 years, this area of the Gashun Gobi was the nuclear test site area of China.
    • Wild Bactrian Camel survived and is apparently breeding naturally.
  • Other threats
    • Highly toxic illegal mining
    • Habitat used for gas pipe line
  • Domestic Bactrian camels and goats have also been introduced to the designated areas and hence compete for grazing and water.
    • Species could be wiped out if their natural habitats in China and Mongolia are destroyed.
    • Threat of hybridization
  • High infant mortality due to harsh conditions.

Rare Camels

Three Bactrian Camels

Fewer than 1,000 wild Bactrian camels remain. They are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Hare (2008)
Tulgat & Schaller (1992)
WRI (2004)

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