The camel, also known as the ‘Ship of the Desert’, is one of the hardiest animals alive on the planet. Camels exist either as Bactrian or Dromedaries.
Bactrian camels have two humps while the dromedaries have one. Camels can travel great distances across the vast expanse of the hot and dry sandy areas, with practically no food and water, for days.
According to fohn.net, camels from Asia and Africa crossed the Arabian Peninsula carrying spices, incense, gold, ivory, and silk on their way to Europe and the lands of the Fertile Crescent as early as 1800 BC.
The legendary Nabateans used camels in the first century BC on their way from the Gulf of Aqaba to the trading capital of Petra in central Jordan.
Camels were also used at war by the Bedouin, whose warriors formed the nucleus of the Muslim armies that conquered the Byzantine and Persian Empires in the 7th century AD.
But did also know these 6 amazing facts about camels?
1. Camel Meat is Cholesterol-free
As other types of red meats continue to rise in prices and pose numerous health problems to their consumers, camel meat could be the meat of the future, especially among health-conscious people.
This is because camel meat has no cholesterol and hardly any fat since the fat is concentrated in the camel’s hump, which can weigh up to 36 KG and can be easily discarded. If a camel’s fat was distributed over its body like in humans, it would insulate the body and make it harder to cool down (fohn.net).
2. Camels and Cows are Closer than you Know
Perhaps you already knew all these facts. But did you know that a female camel is called a cow, a male, a bull? The young one of a camel is called a calf. Just like a cow! Most people think the hump of a camel is filled with water but in reality, it is one huge lump of fat. Camels do not chew their food. They swallow it as cud and regurgitate it later – just like cows!
3. Calves are Born Without a Hump
Did you know that camels shed their coat each year and that they have two layers of thick eyelashes to protect them from the dust? They also have paddy hoofs, with two toes to protect them from sinking in the sand. But the most amazing of all is that baby camels are not born with a hump – this develops much later in their life!
4. They Have Small Ears but Powerful Hearing
A camel’s ears are very small and hairy but their hearing power is very strong.
5. Are the Showstoppers at the Yare Camel Derby
Apart from their meat, wool, which has a wide range of uses, and milk, which is said to be much more nutritious than that from a cow because of its lower fat, lactose and higher potassium, iron and Vitamin C, camels are increasingly being used in competitive sports like the world-famous International camel derby held at the Yare Camel Club and Camp located about 3 KM south of Maralal town in Kenya.
The derby has been running since 1990, to raise funds towards alleviating some of the problems surrounding water and education of the nomadic communities living around Maralal. The funds are also used to combat the degradation and desertification of the environment.
The Maralal Camel Derby is held from July to October every year. During the three day event, spectators from all over the world come to Maralal. Amateurs and professionals from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, England, France, Spain, Japan, South Africa, and the United States among other countries have participated in the race.
6. Used to Provide Mobile Services to Mobile Communities
Camels are now also being used to provide mobile medical health care, mobile library services as well as quite recently, mobile camping tours. The sky just never seems to be the limit for this spectacular animal!
What else have you used camels or seen them being used for? Share your experiences by commenting below.