9 Fun Facts About The Bactrian Camel Of Nubra Valley!

You must have experienced the joy of riding a horse atleast once in your lifetime. While horse riding is common; as is evident in most hill stations, beaches and even Indian marriages, a camel ride is always cherished. And what if we tell you that the camel in light her is NOT the ‘Ship of the Desert’ and these camels are unlike any that you’ve ever seen? Well, we are referring to the ‘Bactrian Camel’ found in the picturesque Nubra Valley, Ladakh. Bactrian Camels are exotic animals and here’s why Sumit Roy thinks that riding one should be in your bucket list.

Bactrian camel in Nubra valley TUTC glamping

The Bactrian Camel has unique, distinctive features that easily distinguishes it from an Arabin camel.

The Bactrian Camel – What About Them?

Ever heard of them? Okay, how about ‘Dromedary Camels’? It’s time to break the ice. There are only two species of camels in the world – Dromedary Camels with ‘one hump’ and Bactrian Camels with ‘two humps’. Intrigued?

Herds of Bactrian Camels with their masters, eagerly awaiting their riders.

A herd of the Bactrian Camel rest in the sands of Nubra Valley.

Unlike the common single-humped Dromedary Camels, Bactrian Camels are not found in the hot deserts. They are special not just because of their double humps, but also because of their habitat. They are found in the cold desert areas of Nubra Valley in India, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.

9 Fun Facts About The Bactrian Camel That You Ought To Know:

A flock of Wild Bactrian Camels traversing the steppes following the trails of nature

A herd of the Wild Bactrian Camel traversing the steppes following the trails of nature

  1. The Bactrian Camel is further categorized as domesticated and wild. While the domesticated population is pegged to be more than 1 million, those found in the wild are listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List with their population being reduced to less than 1500.
  2. The Wild Bactrian Camel is the only mammal on land that can survive on salty water, something which even their domesticated counterparts are not capable of.
  3. They get their name from the historical region of Bactria in Central Asia. It is believed that the Great Philosopher Aristotle first referred to these exotic animals as Bactrian Camels to distinguish them from the single-humped camels.
  4. They are the reason why Dromedary Camels exist, with the latter evolving to adapt to the hot deserts by replacing the double-hump with a single-hump.
    Reminds you of Arabian Nights? Camels and caravans have from times immemorial always intrigued artists and they are the nomads of every traveller’s dreams

    Reminds you of Arabian Nights? Camels and caravans have from times immemorial always intrigued artists and they are the nomads of every traveller’s dreams

  5. If you tilt your heads on your left and look at a Bactrian camel, you get the English alphabet, ‘B’. Similarly if you do the same with a Dromedary camel, you get the English alphabet, ‘D’. Funny, right?
  6. They devour on thorny plants, however, when the vegetation is scarce they can survive on anything from bones to flesh and even sandals to ropes, and tents. Hence the saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.”
    Humans: Surviving the winter is a tough nut to crack. Bactrian Camels: Eh, winter…? What’s that?

    Humans: Surviving the winter is a tough nut to crack. Bactrian Camel: Eh, winter…? What’s that?

  7. They can oscillate between -40° C during winter and 40° C during summer. Phew! That is like traveling from the North Pole to the South Pole, isn’t it? A shaggy winter coat protects these exotic animals during winter which falls out gradually when the temperature rises only to grow back when there is a drop in the temperature. We now know why they are the Godfathers of Dromedary Camels, don’t we?
  8. Just like Dromedary Camels, they hardly sweat which helps them sustain several weeks without water.
    When thirsty they can drink up to 30 gallons of water in just 13 minutes i.e. 113 litres of water.

    When thirsty they can drink up to 30 gallons of water in just 13 minutes i.e. 113 litres of water.

  9. A common misconception about a camel’s hump is that it is used for storing water. However, let us be very clear today. A camel’s hump is used for storing fats which gets converted into water and energy when enough food is not available. When there is enough food available, the double-humps of a Bactrian camel appear strong and erect.“An empty sack cannot stand upright.” So is the case with Bactrian Camels. When out of food for weeks, their humps become flabby and lean side wards.

The ‘Furry-Silk’ Connection

With no visible signs of life anywhere around, they are all geared up in their furry coats braving the harsh winter

With no visible signs of life anywhere around, they are all geared up in their furry coats braving the harsh winter.

“If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.” These words by Franklin D. Roosevelt tells us how much we are interdependent on everything that exists. Our forefathers perhaps understood this concept better than we do now. And the Bactrian Camel is a living example of this universal truth. It is because they were the driving force behind the stupendous success of the Silk Trade which made many civilizations thrive in harmony. Right from the steppes of Mongolia to the sand dunes of Arabia, they have been there all along, marking their presence in the history books and enabling human contact.

Reminisce about the success of the Silk Trade while riding these exotic animals in the Nubra Valley.

Reminisce about the success of the Silk Trade while riding these exotic animals in the Nubra Valley.

The closure of the Silk Route left the Bactrian Camel wandering or should we say jobless in the Nubra Valley and while they were still busy finding their purpose, humans befriended them. The Bactrain camels still await your presence at the Nubra Valley. Come, let’s take a ride in paradise.

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About The Author

sumit

Sumit Roy is an Editor, Writer, Researcher, Translator and Proofreader at Aatman Innvoations Pvt. Ltd. When not working, he likes to read, write, watch movies or series, play computer games or even better – procrastinate. He believes in free basic education for all and thinks that capitalism first and socialism next can change this world for better.

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