Are Black Camels Rare? (Do They Even Exist?)

Despite their unique appearance, black camels do exist. They are very rare, at least more than white camels. Black camels have characteristically dark fur color, which has a high value.

Even though they are rare and hard to find, there are several countries with different breeds of black camels.

are black camels rare

Where Are Black Camels Found?

Among others, black camels can be found in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and India. Breeds like Al-Majaheem, Liben, and Kharai exhibit dark-colored fur.

In Saudi Arabia, a breed of camel called Al-Majaheem can be found in Najd and Al Dawaser valley in North and North East Saudi Arabia. They are big, rigid, have long legs, wide feet, well-developed udder, and black colored hair covering their body. [1]

Al-Majaheem camels grow extremely fast. At birth, they weigh around 92 lbs (42 kg); by the time they reach one year of age, they can weigh 660 lbs (300 kg); at the age of 5, they are over 1650 lbs heavy (750 kg). [2

Al-Majaheem are very good dairy animals and produce abound 2.5 gallons of milk a day (9.5 liters), which is around 940 gallons per year (3550 l).

In Ethiopia, a breed of camel called Liben inhabits Liben and Borana zones there. It has big hairy ears, long legs, heavy body, and some members are known to have black-colored fur. They are considered meat-type animals, and during droughts are known to migrate 60-120 miles (100-200 km) in pursuit of food and water. [6]

In Pakistan and India, a breed of camel called Kharai can have dark brown to black color of their fur. They are medium-sized animals, with long black hair in their ears and curly brown or black hair covering their body. 

At birth, they weigh around 95 pounds (43 kg); as adults, they reach 1330 lbs (602 kg). They are mostly racing camels, but that’s not what makes them special. 

In case you ever wondered if camels can swim, the answer is yes, and Kharai camels are the ones that do it most. They can swim for several hours a day in search of food.

Further reading: How much is a camel worth?

Black Camels Vs White Camels

A study from 2018 discovered genetic differences between black and white camels. The sequence variations at the MC1R and ASIP genes were detected. MC1R gene was linked to the white skin color and ASIP was associated with black skin color. [3]

A difference in the effect of urine on blood clots was also examined. 

Another 2018 study found that both black camel and white camel urine can influence platelet aggregation in blood. This clumping together of platelets in the blood can lead to the formation of a thrombus (clot). 

What they discovered was that white camel urine causes more platelet inhibition than black camel urine. [4]

Camel urine has proven to have several positive benefits, which we discussed here. Also, a product of camel urine, the camel urine oil is said to have many positive benefits.

When it comes to camel meat, one study found higher concentrations of Cu and Mg, and lower concentrations of Zn in the liver of the black camels compared to white camels. [5]

The same study found a higher concentration of Mg in black camel meat compared to white camels.

What Do Black Camels Eat?

Black camels, like other regular camels, are herbivores. They will browse on high vegetation, leaves, and branches. If browsing is not available, they will graze on grass, dry leaves, thorny plants, bushes, and similar. 

And those swimming camels? Well, they are known to swim for several hours to get to their favorite food, mangroves. Can be often seen crossing the sea in search of mangrove islands to feast on.

If no other food is available, camels might resort to eating meat; but only the one they find dead in the desert, camels do not prey on other animals.

Conclusion

And there you have it, an article explaining the question “are black camels rare”, complete.

Contrary to what people might think, black camels do exist and are real. They are extremely rare, even more than white camels. They are mostly found in India, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, as several local breeds have black color fur. Black camels eat the usual food camels eat, branches, plants, leaves, etc.


References:

[1] Abdallah, H.R. & Faye, Bernard. (2012). Phenotypic classification of Saudi Arabian camel (Camelus dromedarius) by their body measurements. Emirates Journal of Food and Agriculture. 24. 272-280. 

[2] Wardeh, M. F. “Classification of the dromedary camels.” J. Camel Sci 1 (2004): 1-7.

[3] Almathen, Faisal, et al. “Polymorphisms in MC1R and ASIP genes are associated with coat color variation in the Arabian camel.” Journal of Heredity 109.6 (2018): 700-706.

[4] Al-Ghumlas, Abeer Khalid. “Camel platelet aggregation responses and the antiplatelet effect of camel urine: comparison between black and white camels.” Heliyon 6.10 (2020): e05353.

[5] Brima, Eid I., et al. “Assessment of trace elements in camel (Camelus dromedarius) meat, hump and liver consumed in Saudi Arabia by inductive coupled plasma mass spectrometry.” Journal of Camel Practice and Research 26.2 (2019): 179-187.

[6] Mirkena, Tadele, et al. “Camel production systems in Ethiopia: a review of literature with notes on MERS-CoV risk factors.” Pastoralism 8.1 (2018): 1-17.

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