Are Camels Endangered? – Population And Conservation Status

In the last 100 years, the number of animals has greatly been reduced, with over 5000 animal species under the threat of becoming extinct. 

More than 180 species of mammals are also endangered, according to The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 

Looking back at camel evolutionary history, dozens of camel species have gone extinct in the previous millions of years.

So what’s the situation with modern camels?

In this article, we will answer the question “are camels endangered”, check the camel conservation status and camel populations left in the world.

are camels endangered

Are Camels Endangered Species?

When it comes to camel conservation and endangered status, Wild Bactrian camels are endangered while Dromedary and domesticated Bactrian camels are not.

How many camels are left in the world?

According to The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), from the most recent, 2018 data, the total number of camels left in the world was 35,525,270.

Officially, 46 countries have significant camel populations. 20 of those are from Africa, 25 are from Asia and only 1 is from Europe (Ukraine). 

The data FAO provided includes both Dromedary and Bactrian camel populations.

About 70% of the data from African countries, and 40% of Asian countries are estimates, because of no local available data.

In 1961, the camel population (according to FAO data), was around 13 million camel heads. 

Since then, the growth in camel population was estimated at around 3% on average, with 35 countries having a negative growth rate.

When it comes to the USA, the number of camels is estimated to be around 3000, mostly found in private farms as tourist attractions, zoos, and dairy production farms.

Not something you’d expect from a country where camels originated.

Read more: Top 15 places to ride a camel in the USA

In Europe, the camel number is estimated at around 6000, although camel data is not registered there.

The highest camel population country in the world is Somalia with over 7.1 million camels.

Sudan is second, with about 5 million camels, and according to some reports, Ethiopia with 4.8 million heads of camels.

Are Dromedary Camels Endangered?

Dromedary camels are not considered endangered and IUCN has not given them any special status. 

Dromedary camels are domesticated, one-humped camelids that live in the Middle East, Sahara region, and Afghanistan. 

According to archeological reposts, the human domestication of dromedaries probably happened between 1100-1800 years BC. 

How Many Dromedary Camels Are There In The World?

It is estimated that there are around 32 million dromedary camels in the world.

The dromedary camel population has been increasing annually on average by 3.8%, with some countries having a decline in dromedary camel numbers. 

For example, since 2010, the dromedary population in India has been declining.

In 1961, India had around 900,000 dromedary camels, while in 2018 just over 300,000. 

The most endangered have been camels from the so-called “camel states” of the country, including the swimming camels of Gujarat

Are Bactrian Camels Endangered?

The domesticated Bactrian camel is not considered endangered. The Wild Bactrian camel, on the other hand, was listed on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species as critically endangered.

Bactrian camels are two-humped camelids living in Central Asia, China, and Mongolia. 

Bactrian camels are today distributed mainly in Central Asian countries, including Southwest Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan, northeastern Afghanistan, Russia, Crimea, and Uzbekistan.

A few populations can also be found in Northern Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and India. 

The largest number of domestic Bactrian camels is in China, mainly in Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Qinghai, and Gansu. 

Based on archaeological evidence, humans domesticated the Bactrian about 4000-5000 years ago. 

A part of Bactrian camels was not domesticated.

Those were animals that are now known as the Wild Bactrian camels. 

How many Bactrian camels are left in the world?

It is estimated that the total Bactrian camel population in the world is around 2.8 million. Out of those, the population of Wild Bactrian camel (Camelus Ferus) has been in decline and it is estimated that around 900-1600 of these camels remain.

While the dromedary population increased annually, the Bactrian camel population, on the other hand, decreased by 0.10%

Back in 1975, to protect the Wild Bactrian camels, Mongolia established the Great Gobi “A” Strictly Protected Area (GGSPAA). 

China did similarly and created Lob Nur Wild Camel Conservation National Natural Reserve in Xinjiang and the Wild Camel Conservation Natural Reserve in Annanba.

Also, different foundations have been working on this issue.

One of them is Wild Camel Protection Foundation, with the main task of protecting this endangered large mammal.

The domestic Bactrian camel population has been increasing since 2010 in China because of the high value of processed Bactrian camel wool on the market and because of increased interest by the locals in the medical benefits of camel milk.

Why Are Bactrian Camels Endangered?

Wild Bactrian camels are endangered because their habitat shrank due to mining and industrialization, poor reproduction rate, shortage of drinking water, human hunting, human interference, hybridization of Bactrian camels, and being preyed on by other animals.

Read about the camel’s close cousin from South America, the llama, and its conservation status HERE.

Conclusion

Despite a total population of 35 million, some camels are endangered species. Wild Bactrian Camels are considered critically endangered with only 1000 of them remaining in the wild. There are over 32 million dromedaries, and around 3 million domesticated Bactrian camels, but these two are not considered endangered.

Rapid industrialization, climate changes, and human interference are considered to be the main reasons why Wild Bactrian camels are endangered and are close to extinction.

Since 1961, the entire camel population has been increasing.

But this increase has not been shared by all camel species. 

Some members of Dromedary camels have seen their numbers decrease in recent years, like the Kharai camels from India. 

Sadly for them, the answer to the question “are camels endangered” is positive.

Further reading: Camels in WW1

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