|domestic dromedary range|
The dromedary or Arabian camel (Camelus dromedarius) is a large even-toed ungulate with one hump on its back. Its native range is unclear, but it was probably the Arabian Peninsula. The domesticated form occurs widely in North 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 one of the best-known members of the camel family. Other members of the camel family include the llama and the alpaca in South America. The Dromedary has one hump on its back, in contrast to the Bactrian camel which has two.
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.
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 and possibly over 1 million. 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 wild 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).
Dromedaries are used as a beast of burden in most of its domesticated range. Unlike horses, they kneel for the loading of passengers and cargo. Dromedaries have a reputation for being bad-tempered and obstinate creatures that spit and kick. A camel will show displeasure by stamping its feet and running.
Their hair is also used as a source material for woven goods, ranging from Bedouin tents to garments.
Dromedary meat is consumed on a large scale in the Arabian Peninsula, Somalia, Sudan, and to a lesser extent Egypt, among other places. Border guards in many remote desert locations in Egypt use camels for patrols. Such mounted border guards are called هجان Haggan (pl. هجانة Hagganah).
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.
In 1840 the first six camels were shipped from Tenerife to Adelaide. Only one camel survived the journey, arriving on the 12th of October 1840. The explorer John Horrocks was one of the first people to use camels to explore the arid interior of Australia during the 1840s. There are now several hundred thousand feral camels living in Australia, the descendants of domesticated camels that were released or escaped. See: Australian feral camel.
In Pakistan's Balochistan province, it is declared as the provincial animal of the region.
Species: Camelus dromedarius
Camelus dromedarius Linnaeus, 1758