Historically the Camel would have roamed throughout the deserts of Northern Africa, the Middle East and as far into Asia as western India
Today, Camels are no longer found in the wild but still exist as domestic animals in these areas and provide both transport and an important source of food for the local people. Their ability to go for so long without both food and water, along with being able to carry heavy loads has meant that they have allowed people to travel further across the desert.
Camels inhabit these dry and arid regions in herds that can contain up to 40 individuals and are comprised of females with their young and are led by a single, dominant male. During the breeding season, dominant males protect their harem of females by biting, spitting and leaning on their rival males. Camels rest by lying down and do so by bending their front legs underneath them, followed by the back.
Although the Camel is technically a herbivorous animal their diet is not strictly vegetarian as they are known to chew on bones and eat carrion to supplement their diet. Another adaptation for living in the desert is their split, leathery lip which helps the Camel to eat tough and thorny plants which other animals avoid. They are also known to consume plants that are high in salt which again means there is less competition from other animals for food. One of the most remarkable things about Camels is their ability to store the energy from their food and water as fat in their hump, which means they have a ready supply of energy when food and water are scarce.
Although they no longer exist in the wild, the large size of the Camel means that it would have had limited predators. Although they were first domesticated by people more than 5,000 years ago they would have been hunted by them for their meat and hides for longer. Today, although no Camels exist in the true wild their domestic population is high and they are commonly found alongside people from Northern Africa to Western Asia.
Camels are not only hardy, desert animals because they can survive without water for up to 10 months providing they find food, but their relatively slow-paced lifestyle means that they can also travel vast distances (sometimes more than 30km) in just one day, whilst carrying a load that could exceed 200kg. As with a number of other domesticated animals, there are now various different breeds of Camel that have resulted from cross-breeding Camels with Bactrian Camels Camels to produce individuals that are either bigger and stronger to be used as working animals or are incredibly fast. Unlike any other mammal, Camels have unique oval-shaped red blood cells which allows the blood to keep flowing smoothly when the animalbecomes dehydrated and the blood thickens.
Camels have been used for thousands of years by people both for transporting goods across the desert and as a good source of milk and meat. Their woolly hair can also be used to make clothing along with their leathery hides. Like other domestic animals, there are now numerous breeds of Camel but not all have been bred for truly practical uses with faster and faster breeds appearing that are then used for Camel racing. Their placid nature though, has meant that they can live alongside people and other livestock without hardly any problems.