Camelus ferus

Status_ne_offStatus_dd_offStatus_lc_offStatus_nt_offStatus_vu_offStatus_en_offStatus_cr_onStatus_ew_offStatus_ex_off

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CETARTIODACTYLA CAMELIDAE

Scientific Name: Camelus ferus
Species Authority: Przewalski, 1878
Common Name(s):
English Bactrian Camel, Wild Bactrian Camel
French Chameau De Bactriane, Chameau Domestique
Spanish Camello Bactriano
Synonym(s):
Camelus bactrianus Linnaeus, 1758
Taxonomic Notes: The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (2003) ruled that the name for this wild species is not invalid by virtue of being antedated by the name based on the domestic form. Therefore, IUCN considers the wild species of Bactrian Camel under Camelus ferus, while the domestic form is considered under Camelus bactrianus (see Gentry et al. 2004).

Grubb (2005) lists ferus as a subspecies of bactrianus, contrary to most authors.

One-humped camels (Camelus dromedarius) and Bactrian camels (Camelus ferus) can produce viable hybrids (Camelus dromedarius hybridus J. Fischer 1829, unavailable), but hybrid males are thought to be sterile (A.P. Gray 1972).

Samples of skin taken from the remains of dead wild Bactrian Camels have been sent to scientists for genetic DNA testing. The results have been remarkable. Each skin sample has shown two or three distinct genetic differences to the domestic Bactrian camel and a 3% base difference. This answers the charge that the wild Bactrian camel is a domestic runaway. The wild Bactrian Camels in the Gashun Gobi are the only herds which are completely isolated from domestic Bactrian Camels. This lack of an opportunity to hybridize is what makes their survival so vital. It is these remnant herds that the Wild Camel Protection Foundation is striving to save, by establishing, with Chinese government support, the 65,000 square kilometer, Arjin Shan Lop Nur Nature Reserve.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered A3de+4ade ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Hare, J.
Reviewer(s): Stuart, S.N. (Global Mammal Assessment Team) & Hare, J. (Wild Camel Protection Foundation)
Justification:
This species is assessed as Critically Endangered. The Wild Bactrian Camel is facing a population size reduction of at least 80% within the next three generations (estimated at 45 to 50 years). This projection is based on observations made during five expeditions (1993 - Mongolian Gobi and 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999 - Chinese Gobi). The population is the target of continued hunting (mainly persecution because the camels compete with domestic camels and livestock for water and grazing, but also sport hunting). Mining, both legal and illegal, and the proposed construction of a gas pipeline and the associated industrial development, as well as a proposed kaolin mine, would also have an impact on the main Chinese subpopulation of Wild Bactrian Camel. The effects of hybridization with domestic camels both in Mongolia and China and increased human competition and economic pressures within the designated habitat of the wild Bactrian camel, have also prompted this listing. The Mongolian subpopulation is known to have declined by 46% since 1985. However, due to increased hunting and wolf predation it is now expected that 25-30 animals will be lost annually from this subpopulation (a substantial increase in the mortality rate). Based on these observations and assuming that the trends will continue into the future, it is estimated that there will be at least an 84% reduction in the population size by the year 2033 (approximately three generations from 1985). Given the increasing threats to the Chinese subpopulations (where at least 20 animals are killed annually) there is no reason to expect the situation for these subpopulations to be any different.
History:
2007 Critically Endangered
2002 Critically Endangered
1996 Endangered (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
1996 Endangered
1996 Endangered
1994 Vulnerable (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Vulnerable (IUCN 1990)
1988 Vulnerable (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
1986 Vulnerable (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Bactrian Camel is restricted to four subpopulations in China and Mongolia: Gashun Gobi, Gansu, China; Taklamakan Desert, Xinjiang, China (this population has declined and may now be extinct); the northern slopes of Arjin Shan mountains and adjacent areas in Lop Nur Wild Camel National Reserve, China; and the Great Gobi Section A Strictly Protected Area, Mongolia, and adjacent areas in China (Reading et al. 1999, Mix et al. 2002, Wang et al. 2002). In Mongolia, the species is found in the Trans Altai Govi Desert (Mix et al. 2002), including the foothills of the Edren Range to Shiveet Ulaan, and the Hükh Tömörtei Range to the state border (Mix et al. 2002, Adiya et al. 2004, Adiya and Dovchindorj 2005).

A domestic form, considered under a separate species name (Camelus bactrianus), exists in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China (Grubb 2005).

The range of the wild Bactrian camel in historic times extended from about the great bend of the Yellow River, across the deserts of southern Mongolia and northwestern China to central Kazakhstan. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the species had been extirpated from the western part of its range, and persisted only in remote areas of the Gobi and Taklimakan Deserts. These populations have become increasingly fragmented over the past 150 years (Schaller 1998).
Countries:
Native:
China (Xinjiang); Mongolia
Regionally extinct:
Kazakhstan
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In the year 2004, there were approximately 600 individuals surviving in China and 350 in Mongolia, with numbers continuing to decrease (J. Hare pers. comm.). In 1985 the Mongolian subpopulation numbered 650 animals.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is found in the Gobi and Gashun Gobi deserts of northwest China and Mongolia. While vegetation is sparse, the desert itself varies from rocky mountain massifs, to the flat pavement-like areas of the extremely arid desert; stony "gobi" desert plains; poplar fringed oases; vast washed-out plains and high sand dunes. In some areas, in the absence of fresh water, it has adapted to drinking salt water slush which the domestic camel will not touch.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is still hunted for food and sport.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): It is estimated from information received from the Protected Area staff and Mongolian scientists working in the 'Great Gobi Reserve A' that in Mongolia, 25 to 30 Wild Bactrian Camels are being killed annually when they migrate across the international border into China on the southernmost boundary of the protected area 'Great Gobi Reserve A'. The hunting is mainly for local subsistence use.

Due to the reduction in water points (oases) because of drought, wolves have increased their predation of Wild Bactrian Camels. This activity is concentrated at the remaining water points in the area. The remaining habitat in Mongolia is also being degraded by domestic livestock.

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. Economic pressure to use the areas adjoining the Nature Reserve as grazing for domestic Bactrian camels has increased hybridisation on the southern border and this poses a significant threat to the unique genetic strain of the Wild Bactrian Camel which current scientific DNA research suggests is a separate species.

For 45 years, this area of the Gashun Gobi was the nuclear test site area of China. In spite of this, the Wild Bactrian Camel survived and is apparently breeding naturally. Since the cessation of nuclear tests in China, the Wild Bactrian Camel now faces new threats including highly toxic illegal mining and hunting for food and sport. Parts of the Wild Bactrian Camel's designated habitat are likely to be designated for industrial use (gas pipe line laying, exploitation of minerals). Domestic Bactrian camels and goats have also been introduced to the designated areas and hence compete for grazing and water.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The 'Great Gobi Reserve A' was established in Mongolia in 1982 and in 2000, the 'Arjin Shan Lop Nur Nature Reserve' was established in China. Although the first phase of Nature Reserve construction is now complete, much more work, including the opening of a second Nature Reserve in China is needed.

The establishment of a captive Wild Bactrian Camel breeding programme in Mongolia has been established by the Wild Camel Protection Foundation. This is an urgent conservation priority. Only fifteen wild Bactrian camels are currently in captivity in China and Mongolia. With so few captive animals, the whole species could be wiped out if their natural habitats in China and Mongolia are destroyed. It is therefore important to breed enough animals in captivity to insure against this possible disaster. As each female camel can have young at most once every two years, relying on natural methods would permit the numbers to rise only very slowly.

Bibliography [top]

Adiya, Yad. and Dovchindorj, G. 2005. Preliminary results on a population and ecology study of wild bactrian camels (Camelus bactrianus). Proceedings of the Institute of General and Experimental Biology of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences 25: 44-49.

Adiya, Yad., Reading, R. P., Blumer, E. S., Mix, H., Mijiddorj, B. and Choijin, S. 2004. Summary of recent research on wild bactrian camels (Camelus bactrianus ferus Przewalski, 1883). In: Ya. Adiya and K. Ulikpan (eds), Some Studies in the Trans-Altai Gob Ecosystem, pp. 38-45. United Nations Development Project-Global Environment Facility, Conservation of the great Gobi and its Umbrella Species, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Baillie, J. and Groombridge, B. (comps and eds). 1996. 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Bannikov, A. G. 1975. Wild camels in Mongolia. Oryx 13: 12.

Chen, Y. 1984. The geographical distribution of wild camel in Gansu. Acta. Theriologica Sinica 3(3): 186.

Gentry, A., Clutton-Brock, J. and Groves, C. P. 2004. The naming of wild animal species and their domestic derivatives. Journal of Archaeological Science 31: 645-651.

Groombridge, B. (ed.). 1994. 1994 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Grubb, P. 2005. Artiodactyla. In: D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed), pp. 637-722. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA.

Gu, J. and Gao, X. 1985. The Distribution of the Wild Camel. Chinese Academy of Sciences: 117-120.

Hare, J. 1996. Footprints on the wind. Wildlife 14: 24 - 30.

Hare, J. 1997. The wild Bactrian camel Camelus bactrianus ferus in China: The need for urgent action. Oryx 31: 45-48.

Hare, J. 1998. The Lost Camels of Tartary. Little Brown Publishers, London, UK.

Hedin, S. 1940. The Wandering Lake. George Routledge and Sons, London, UK.

IUCN. 1990. IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN. 2002. 2002 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN. 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1986. 1986 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1988. 1988 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Kozlov, P. 1899. Proceedings of the Expedition of the Imperial Russian Geographic Society to Central Asia in 1893 - 1896 under the leadership of Roborovsky. St. Petersburg, Russia.

Littledale, S. 1894. Field-notes on the wild camel of Lob-Nur. Field-notes on the wild camel of Lob-Procedings of the Zoological Society: 446-448.

Liu, N. 2001. Scientific investigation on Dunhuang Natural Reserve in Gansu China. Forestry Publishing House, Biejing, China.

Liu, Y., Chen, F. and Guo, X. 1998. A preliminary approach on the evolution of human-environment relationship and regional sustainable development of Hexi area, Gansu Province, China. Lanzhou University Press, Gansu, China.

Mix, H., Reading, R. P., Blumer, E. S. and Lkhagvasuren, B. 2002. Status and Distribution of Wild Bactrian Camels in Mongolia. In: R.P. Reading, D. Enkhbileg and T. Galbaatar (eds), Ecology and Conservation of Wild Bactrian Camels (Camelus bactrianus ferus), pp. 39-48. Mongolian Conservation Coalition and ADMON Printing, Ulaanbaatar.

Prejevalsky, N. 1879. From Kulja across the Tian Shan to Lob Nur. Sampson Low, Marston, London, UK.

Reading, R. P., Mix, H., Lhagvasuren, B. and Blumer, E. S. 1999. Status of wild Bactrian camels and other large ungulates in south-western Mongolia. Oryx 33(3): 247-255.

Schaller, G.B. 1998. Wildlife of the Tibetan Steppe. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, USA.

Scott, P. 1965. Section XIII. Preliminary List of Rare Mammals and Birds. The Launching of a New Ark. First Report of the President and Trustees of the World Wildlife Fund. An International Foundation for saving the world's wildlife and wild places 1961-1964, pp. 15-207. Collins, London, UK.

Tan, B. J. 1996. Into the Wild - The Rare and Endangered Species of China. New World Press, Beijing, China.

Tsevegmid and Dashdorj. 1974. Wild horses and other endangered wildlife in Mongolia. Oryx 12: 361.

Tulgat, R. and Schaller, G. 1992. Status and distribution of wild Bactrian camels, Camelus bactrianus ferus. Biological Conservation 62: 11-19.

Wang, Z., Wang, X. and Bu, H. 2002. Status of Wild Bactrian Camels in China. In: R. P. Reading, D. Enkhbileg and T. Galbaatar (eds), Ecology and Conservation of Wild Bactrian Camels (Camelus bactrainus ferus), pp. 25-38. Mongolian Conservation Coalition and ADMON Printing, Ulaanbaatar.

Yuan, G., Li, H., Zhang, L., Li, W., Hare, J., Zhao, Z. and Yuan, L. 1999. Distribution and quantity of wild camels in the world and suggestions for their conservation. Zoological Studies in China 1999: 658-665.

Yuan, G., Zhang, L. and Yuan, L. 2000. A Kind of World New Species Mammal: Wild Bactrian Camels. Juvenile Publishing House, Xingjiang, China.


Citation: Hare, J. 2008. Camelus ferus. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 01 October 2014.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please fill in the feedback form so that we can correct or extend the information provided