Dromedary

This species effectively died out about 2000 years ago, and all dromedaries today are the descendants of domesticated stock. Their population is estimated at about 15 million.

These tough animals have been domesticated in and around the Arabian peninsula for more than 4,000 years, and are prized for their endurance in hot, dry conditions. The Dromedary, or onehumped, camel can carry loads of more than 200 kg (440 lb) for several days.

The Dromedary camels can survive for long periods without drinking water. However, when water is available they can consume up to 57 litres (12 gallons) at a time to restore normal levels of body fluids. The Dromedary camels have almost no sweat glands, so they lose water much more slowly than other mammals. Contrary to popular belief, the camel’s hump contains fat, not water, and serves as an energy reserve – although the blubber does hold some water. During the breeding season, dominant males defend groups of up to 30 adult females from other males. Younger males form groups of bachelor males. Although the Dromedary is thought of as having only a single hump, it does actually have a second inconspicuous hump in the shoulder region.

As well as their characteristic hump, the Dromedary camels have other adaptations to the harsh conditions of the desert, including broad feet for walking on loose sand, long eyelashes, hairy ears, and nostrils that can be closed to keep out sand and dust.

Distribution: Ranges throughout northern Africa, to the Horn of Africa and through Arabia and the Middle East to northwestern India. Has been introduced to parts of central Australia.

Habitat: Deserts and scrubland.

Food: Herbivorous, grazing on grass and browsing on taller plants and carrion.

Weight: 600-1000 kg (1320—2200 lb).

Length: 350 cm (138 in), including tail; up to 210 cm (84 in) tall.

Maturity: Females 3 – 4 years; males 5-6 years

Breeding: Single young or twins every 2 years.

Gestation Period: About 365 – 400 days; weaning occurs at 1 – 2 years.

Life span: Up to 50 years.

Status: Common.

Hump

Dromedaries have a single large hump in the middle of the back.

Ballooning tissue

Male dromedaries may allow their soft palate to hang out of their mouths.

Knees

Callouses of hard skin form on the camel’s knees where it lies down.

Colouration

Typical wild colouration was light brown, as shown here.

UNDERSIDE OF THE FOOT

The two toes forming the foot absorb the camel’s weight as it moves. There is a claw on each toe.

Gallery of Dromedary