Ships of the Desert

Beez Neez
Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Sun 12 Oct 2008 20:04
 

The Camelus Dromedarius.

The Dromedary camel (Camelus dromedarius) is a large even-toed ungulate. It is often referred to as the one-humped camel, Arabian camel, or simply as the "dromedary". Its native range is unclear, but it was probably the Arabian Peninsula. The domesticated form occurs widely in northern Africa and the Middle East; the world's only population of dromedaries exhibiting wild behaviour is an introduced feral population in Australia. The dromedary camel is arguably the best-known member of the camel family. Other members of the camel family include the Ilama and the alpaca in South America. The Dromedary has one hump on its back, in contrast to the Bactrian camel which has two. A good mnemonic for remembering which way around these terms apply is this: "Bactrian" begins with "B", and "Dromedary" begins with "D"; "B" on its side has two humps, whilst "D" on its side has only one hump.
 
                
 
The camel in his natural environment. At work and complaining. The two-humped Bactrian.
 
Camels are very suited for their harsh environment....aside from their ability to store fat in their hump for emergency energy, they have flat, padded feet which are perfect for walking on loose, hot sand.  During sandstorms, the camel can close up it's nostrils to keep from inhaling the hot grains of sand and hunker down into a sort of ball to wait for the storm to subside. These animals also provide food and clothing for the
people who inhabit their area of the world and their skins provide shelter, so the camel has become one of the most important beasts of burden in the world.
 
     
 
In some ways the camel is more reliable than the tractor. Modern / Western clothes but the form of transport and scenery traditional. The thirsty gang.
 
Adult males grow to a height of 1.8–2.0 m, and females to 1.7–1.9 m. The weight is usually in the range of 400–600 kg for males, with females being 10% lighter. They show remarkable adaptability in body temperature, from 34 °C to 41.7 °C, this being an adaptation to conserve water. Male dromedaries have a soft palate, which they inflate to produce a deep pink sack, which is often mistaken for a tongue, called a doula in Arabic, hanging out of the sides of their mouth to attract females during the mating season. Dromedaries are also noted for their thick eyelashes and small, hairy ears.  A camel's mating season is year-round and will almost always occur whenever there is an abundance of  food material ( between the months of February and May).  The gestation period is from 400 to 425 days and the resulting in the birth of a single baby calf.  There is a 2 year birth interval between calves.  The lifespan of the Dromedary camel is from 10 to 15 years.

   

Dromedaries were first domesticated in central or southern Arabia some thousands of years ago. Experts are divided regarding the date: some believe it was around 4000 BC, others as recently as 1400 BC. There are currently almost 13 million domesticated dromedaries, mostly in the area from Western India via Pakistan through Iran to northern Africa. None survive in the wild in their original range, although the escaped population of Australian feral camels is estimated to number at least 300,000. Around the second millennium BC, the dromedary was introduced to Egypt and North Africa. In the Canary Islands, the dromedaries were introduced recently as domestic animals.
Although there are several other camelids, the only other surviving species of true camel today is the Bactrian Camel. The Bactrian camel was domesticated sometime before 2500 BC in Asia, well after the earliest estimates for the dromedary. The Bactrian camel is a stockier, hardier animal, being able to survive from Iran to Tibet The dromedary is taller and faster: with a rider they can maintain 8-9 mph (13-14.5 km/h) for hours at a time. By comparison, a loaded Bactrian camel moves at about 2.5 mph (4 km/h).

   

Camels being loaded for war work in 1940. The Indian guard and mounted soldiers.

Unlike horses, they kneel for the loading of passengers and cargo. A camel's long, thin legs have powerful muscles which allow the animal to carry heavy loads over long distances. They can carry as much as 450 kgs or 990 lbs, but a usual and more comfortable cargo weight is 150kgs/330lbs. It is usual for a camel to work as a beast of burden for only six to eight months of the year; the remainder of the time it needs to rest and recuperate. Dromedaries have an ill-deserved reputation for being bad-tempered and obstinate creatures that spit and kick. In reality, they tend to be amiable, patient, and intelligent. A camel will show displeasure by stamping its feet and running, usually if man has loaded him with too much weight. At many of the desert located tourist sites in Egypt, police mounted on camels can be seen. A camel can go 5-7 days with little or no food and water, and can lose a quarter of its body weight without impairing its normal functions. These days, camels rely on man for their preferred food of dates, grass and grains such as wheat and oats, but a working camel travelling across an area where food is scarce can easily survive on thorny scrub or whatever it can find - bones, seeds and dried leaves, even tents. They have three stomachs which allows the camel to partially digest their food and then regurgitate it to finish the chewing and digestion process.  These vegetarians are truly unique in their ability to squeeze nutrients from the driest, most unappetizing pieces of plant material imaginable. Some grasses and plants on the desert contain 50% water. This helps the camel to be able to ingest enough water to keep from dehydrating.  These animals can go over 90 days without water but when water is readily available, they may drink as much as 35 to 40 gallons at a sitting.  They store fat in their hump which is used as energy whenever food is scarce.  If camels are not able to get food or water for several months...their hump will become almost non-existent, but will rapidly "rebuild" after proper food and water has been ingested.

All camels moult in spring and have grown a new coat by autumn. Camel hair is sought after world-wide for high-quality coats, garments and artists' brushes, as well as being used to make traditional Bedouin rugs and tents. A camel can shed as much as 2.25 kilos/5lbs of hair at each moult.

   

Around the second millennium BC, camels had become established in the Sahara region but disappeared again from the Sahara beginning around 900 BC. The Persian invasion of Egypt under Cambyses introduced domesticated camels to the area. Domesticated camels were used through much of North Africa, and the Romans maintained a corps of camel warriors to patrol the edge of the desert. The Persian camels, however, were not particularly suited to trading or travel over the Sahara; rare journeys made across the desert were made on horse-drawn chariots. The stronger and more durable Dromedaries first began to arrive in Africa in the fourth century. It was not until the Islamic Conquest of North Africa, however, that these camels became common. While the invasion was accomplished largely on horseback, the new links to the Middle East allowed camels to be imported en masse. These camels were well-suited to long desert journeys and could carry a great deal of cargo. For the first time this allowed substantial trade over the Sahara.

All in all a really useful creature and at about £475.00 each a bargain. So when I offered you for 10 camels........................ See Bear RUN .........................