Bactrian camels live in the rocky Asian Gobi desert, and the steppes of central Asia. Their name is derived from Bactria, an area in ancient Persia (but in present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan), where they were first domesticated. There are now fewer than 1,000 living in the wild, but more than 2,000,000 domestic ones. They are known for their endurance in harsh conditions, and are able to withstand both very low and very high temperatures. They can go for several days without water, and also without food because their two humps are storages of fat, which is consumed when nothing else is available. In adition to water normally stored in the body, the Bactrian camel stores about 1.5 gallons in special sacks around its stomach. They like eating prickly, dry, and salty plants. They grow thick, shaggy winter coats for survival in cold climates, which they shed during the spring.
The above picture was taken at the Attica Zoological Park, in Athens, Greece, in July 2008.
Life on Earth