|Wild Bactrian camel|
|Wild Bactrian camel|
The wild Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus) is a critically endangered species of camel living in parts of northwestern China and southwestern Mongolia. It is closely related to the domestic Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus). Both are large, double-humped even-toed ungulates native to the steppes of central Asia.  Until recently, wild Bactrian camels were thought to have descended from domesticated Bactrian camels that became feral after being released into the wild. However, genetic studies have established it as a separate species which diverged from the Bactrian camel about 1.1 million years ago.       
Currently, only about 1,000 wild Bactrian camels are living in the wild.  Most live on the Lop Nur Wild Camel National Nature Reserve in China, and a smaller population lives in the Great Gobi A Strictly Protected Area in Mongolia.  There are also populations in the Altun Shan Wild Camel Nature Reserve (1986) in Qakilik County, in the Aksai Annanba Nature Reserve (1992), and in Dunhuang Wanyaodun Nature Reserve (now Dunhuang Xihu Wild Camel Nature Reserve) contiguous with the reserve in Qakilik (2001) and a reserve in Mazongshan contiguous with the reserve in Mongolia, all in China. 
C. bactrianus is named after Bactria, a region in ancient central Asia.  where the Bactrian camel was domesticated. The wild Bactrian camel (C. ferus) and the domestic Bactrian camel (C. bactrianus) are separate species. 
Wild Bactrian camels have long, narrow slit-like nostrils, a double row of long thick eyelashes, and ears with hairs to provide protection against desert sandstorms. They have tough undivided soles with two large toes that spread wide apart, and a horny layer which enables them to walk on rough and hot stony or sandy terrain. Their thick and shaggy body hair changes colour to[ clarification needed ] light brown or beige during winter.  
Like its close relative, the domesticated Bactrian camel, it is one of the few mammals able[ citation needed ] to eat snow to provide itself with liquids in the winter.  While the legend that camels store water in their humps is a misconception, they are adapted to conserve water. However, long periods without water will result in a deterioration of the animal's health. 
Wild Bactrian camels (Camelus ferus) appear similar to domesticated Bactrian camels (Camelus bactrianus) but the outstanding difference is genetic, with the two species having descended from two distinct ancestors. 
There are several differences in size and shape between the two species. The wild Bactrian camel is slightly smaller than the domestic Bactrian camel and has been described as "lithe, and slender-legged, with very narrow feet and a body that looks laterally compressed."  The humps of the wild Bactrian camel are smaller, lower, and more conical in shape than those of the domestic Bactrian camel. These humps may often be about half the size of those of a domesticated Bactrian camel.  The wild Bactrian camel has a different shape of foot and a flatter skull (the Mongolian name for a wild Bactrian camel, havtagai, means "flat-head"). 
The wool of the wild Bactrian camel is always sandy coloured and shorter and sparser than that of domestic Bactrian camels.  
The wild Bactrian camel can also survive on water saltier than seawater, something which probably no other mammal in the world can tolerate – including the domesticated Bactrian camel. 
Wild Bactrian camels generally move in groups of up to 30 individuals, although 6 to 20 is more common depending on the amount of food available. They are fully migratory and widely scattered with a population density as low as 5 per 100 km2. They travel with a single adult male in the lead and assemble near water points where larger groups can also be seen. Their lifespan is about 40 years and they breed during winter with an overlap into the rainy season. Females produce offspring starting at age 5, and thereafter in a cycle of 2 years.  Typically, wild Bactrian camels seen alone are postdispersal young individuals which have just reached sexual maturity.
Their habitat is in arid plains and hills where water sources are scarce and very little vegetation exists with shrubs as their main food source.  These habitats have widely varying temperatures: the summer temperature ranges from 40–50 °C (104–122 °F)[ citation needed ] and winter temperature a low of −30 °C (−22 °F).
Wild Bactrian camels travel over long distances, seeking water in places close to mountains where springs are found, and hill slopes covered in snow provide some moisture in winter. The size of a herd may vary up to 100 camels but generally consists of 2–15 members in a group; this is reported to be due to arid environment and heavy poaching. The wild Bactrian camels are limited to three pockets in northwest China and some in southwest Mongolia.  China spotted 39, and estimated that there were 600-650 camels in Altun Shan-Lop Nur reserves combined, in late 2018,  with 48 spotted in Dunhuang reserve in 2018.  At the Dunhuang and Mazongshan reserves, it had been estimated that one hundred camels exist per reserve, and for the Aksai reserve, it was estimated that there are nearly 200, according to an earlier estimation.  In Mongolia, their population was about 800 in 2012. 
In ancient times, wild Bactrian camels were seen from the great bend of the Yellow River extending west to the Inner Mongolian deserts and further to Northwest China and central Kazakhstan. In the 1800s, due to hunting for its meat and hide, its presence was noted in remote areas of the Taklamakan, Kumtag and Gobi deserts in China and Mongolia. In the 1920s, only remnant populations were recorded in Mongolia and China. 
In 1964, China began testing nuclear weapons at Lop Nur, home to many of the wild Bactrian camels. The camels experienced no apparent ill effects from the radiation and continued to breed naturally. Instead, their habitat became a restricted military zone where human activity was kept to a minimum. After China signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996, the camels were reclassified as an endangered species on the IUCN Red List.  Since then, human incursions into the area have caused a sharp drop in the camel population. 
The wild Bactrian camel has been classified as Critically Endangered since 2002. The United Kingdom-based Wild Camel Protection Foundation (WCPF) estimates that there are only about 950 of them left in the world and its current population trend is still decreasing.   The London Zoological Society recognizes it as the eighth most endangered large mammal in the world,  and it is on the critically endangered list. The wild Bactrian camel was identified as one of the top ten "focal species" in 2007 by the Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) project, which prioritises unique and threatened species for conservation. 
Observations made during five field expeditions starting in 1993 by John Hare and the WCPF suggest that the surviving populations may be facing an 80% decline within the next 30 years.  According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) its status was critical in the 1960s and gradually declined to critically endangered (Criteria: A3de + 4ade) status in 2000–2004 (IUCN 2004). 
Wild Bactrian camels face many threats. The main threat is climate change. In the Gobi Reserve Area, 25 to 30 camels are reported to be poached every year, and about 20 in the Lop Nur Reserve. Hunters kill the camels by laying land mines in the salt water springs where the camels drink.  Other threats include scarcity of access to water such as oases, attacks by wolves, hybridization with domestic Bactrians leading to a concern of a loss of genetically distinct populations or infertile individuals which could potentially ward off viable bulls from a large number of females during their lifetimes, toxic effluent releases from illegal mining, re-designation of wildlife areas as industrial zones, and sharing grazing areas with domestic animals.  Due to increasing human populations, wild Bactrian camels that migrate in search of grazing land may compete for food and water sources with introduced domestic stock and are sometimes shot by farmers.
The only extant predators that regularly target wild Bactrian camels are wolves, which have been seen to pursue weaker and weather-battered camels as they try to reach oases.  Due to increasingly dry conditions in the species' range, the numbers of cases of wolf predation on wild Bactrian camels at oases has reportedly increased. 
Several actions have been initiated by the governments of China and Mongolia to conserve this species, including ecosystem-based management. Two programmes instituted in this respect are the Great Gobi Reserve A in Mongolia, set up in 1982; and the Lop Nur Wild Camel National Nature Reserve in China, established in 2000. 
The Wild Camel Protection Foundation, the only such charity of its kind, has as its main goal conservation of the wild in its natural desert environment to ensure that their status does not transition to Extinct in the Wild.   The actions taken by the various organizations, motivated and supported by IUCN and WCPF, include establishment of more nature reserves (in China and Mongolia) for their conservation, and breeding them in captivity (as captive females may calve twice every two years, which may not happen in the wild) to prevent extinction.  The captive breeding initiated by WCPF in 2003 is the Zakhyn-Us Sanctuary in Mongolia, where the initial programme of breeding the last non-hybridised herds of wild Bactrian camels has proved a success, with the birth of several viable calves. 
The wild Bactrian camel was considered for introduction at Pleistocene Park in Northern Siberia, as a proxy for extinct Pleistocene camel species.  If this had proved feasible, it would have increased their geographic range considerably, adding a safety margin to their survival. However, in 2021, Bactrian camels were introduced, but these were of the domesticated variety. 
A camel is an even-toed ungulate in the genus Camelus that bears distinctive fatty deposits known as "humps" on its back. Camels have long been domesticated and, as livestock, they provide food and textiles. Camels are working animals especially suited to their desert habitat and are a vital means of transport for passengers and cargo. There are three surviving species of camel. The one-humped dromedary makes up 94% of the world's camel population, and the two-humped Bactrian camel makes up 6%. The wild Bactrian camel is a separate species and is now critically endangered.
Przewalski's horse, also called the takhi, Mongolian wild horse or Dzungarian horse, is a rare and endangered horse originally native to the steppes of Central Asia. It is named after the Polish geographer and explorer Nikolay Przhevalsky. Once extinct in the wild, it has been reintroduced to its native habitat since the 1990s in Mongolia at the Khustain Nuruu National Park, Takhin Tal Nature Reserve, and Khomiin Tal, as well as several other locales in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.
A camel train, caravan or camel string is a series of camels carrying passengers and goods on a regular or semi-regular service between points. Despite rarely travelling faster than human walking speed, for centuries camels' ability to withstand harsh conditions made them ideal for communication and trade in the desert areas of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Camel trains were also used sparingly elsewhere around the globe. Since the early 20th century they have been largely replaced by motorized vehicles or air traffic.
Camelids are members of the biological family Camelidae, the only currently living family in the suborder Tylopoda. The seven extant members of this group are: dromedary camels, Bactrian camels, wild Bactrian camels, llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, and guanacos. Camelids are even-toed ungulates classified in the order Cetartiodactyla, along with species including whales, pigs, deer, cattle, and antelopes.
The dromedary, also known as the dromedary camel, Arabian camel, or one-humped camel, is a large even-toed ungulate, of the genus Camelus, with one hump on its back.
The Bactrian camel, also known as the Mongolian camel or domestic Bactrian camel, is a large even-toed ungulate native to the steppes of Central Asia. It has two humps on its back, in contrast to the single-humped dromedary. Its population of 2 million exists mainly in the domesticated form. Their name comes from the ancient historical region of Bactria.
Lop Nur or Lop Nor is a former salt lake, now largely dried up, located in the eastern fringe of the Tarim Basin, between the Taklamakan and Kumtag deserts in the southeastern portion of the Xinjiang. Administratively, the lake is in Lop Nur town, also known as Luozhong of Ruoqiang County, which in its turn is part of the Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture.
The Lop Desert, or the Lop Depression, is a desert extending from Korla eastwards along the foot of the Kuruk-tagh to the former terminal Tarim Basin in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. It is an almost perfectly flat expanse with no topographic relief. Lake Bosten in the northwest lies at an altitude of 1,030 to 1,040 m, while the Lop Nur in the southeast is only 250 m lower.
The wild horse is a species of the genus Equus, which includes as subspecies the modern domesticated horse as well as the endangered Przewalski's horse. The European wild horse, also known as the tarpan, that went extinct in the late 19th or early 20th century has previously been treated as the nominate subspecies of wild horse, Equus ferus ferus, but more recent studies have cast doubt on whether tarpans were truly wild or if they actually were feral horses or hybrids.
The Gobi Desert ; Chinese: 戈壁; pinyin: gēbì) is a large, cold desert and grassland region in northern China and southern Mongolia and is the sixth largest desert in the world. The name of the desert comes from the Mongolian word Gobi, used to refer to all of the waterless regions in the Mongolian Plateau, while in Chinese Gobi is used to refer to rocky, semi-deserts such as the Gobi itself rather than sandy deserts.
A hybrid camel is a hybrid between a Bactrian camel and dromedary.
The wildlife of Mongolia consists of unique flora and fauna in 3092.75 habitats dictated by the diverse and harsh climatic conditions found in the country. Then the north, salty marshes, fresh-water sources, desert steppes at the centre, and semi deserts, as well as the hot Gobi desert in the south, the fifth largest desert in the world.
The Great Gobi A Strictly Protected Area is a nature reserve in the Gobi Desert, situated in the southwestern part of Mongolia at the border with China. A similar reserve in the Gobi exists farther to the west - the Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area. Both reserves form one unit, the Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area (SPA), which encompasses a total of 53,000 km2 (20,000 sq mi). Great Gobi A is one of the last refuges for critically endangered animals such as the wild Bactrian camel and the Gobi bear.
John Neville Hare was a British explorer, author, and conservationist, known for campaigning for the preservation of the Wild Bactrian camel.
Lop Nur Wild Camel National Nature Reserve protects one of the three remaining habitats of the Wild Bactrian camel, a critically endangered species. The reserve stretches around the north, east, and south of Lop Nur, a dry lake in a desert known as the "Sea of Death", and one of the most arid regions in the world. The reserve was established in 1986 by Xinjiang Province, and has been modified over the years. The reserve is under pressure from new roads in the area, development of mining interests, and illegal hunting.
Wild Field is a 300 ha nature reserve near the city of Tula in Tula Oblast in the European part of Russia, approximately 250 km (150 mi) south of Moscow. It was established in 2012 by Russian scientists Sergey Zimov and Nikita Zimov as a companion to Pleistocene Park in Siberia.