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NYC - Bronx - Bronx Zoo: Dromedary Camel
Image by wallyg
Although there are several other camelids, the only other surviving species of true camel today is the Bactrian Camel. The Bactrian camel was domesticated sometime before 2500 BC in Asia, well after the earliest estimates for the dromedary.
The stronger and more durable Bactrian Camels first began to arrive in Africa in the fourth century. It was not until the Islamic conquest of North Africa, however, that these camels became common. While the invasion was accomplished largely on horseback, the new links to the Middle East allowed camels to be imported en masse. These camels were well-suited to long desert journeys and could carry a great deal of cargo. For the first time this allowed substantial trade over the Sahara.
The Dromedary Camel (Camelus dromedarius), often referred to simply as the "Dromedary", is a large even-toed ungulate. According to the Oakland Zoo: "The name "Dromedary" is properly reserved for the Arabian racing camel such as those used in the various military camel corps." Sometimes called an Arabian Camel, it has one hump on its back, in contrast to the Bactrian Camel which has two.
The dromedary is taller and faster than its Bactrian counterpart. With a rider they can maintain 8-9 mph for hours at a time. Adults grow to a length of 10 feet, height of 6-7 feet. amd weights in the range of 1000-1500 pounds.
Dromedaries were first domesticated in central or southern Arabia some thousands of years ago. Estimates range from around 4000 BC to as recently as 1400 BC. Around the second millennium BCE, the dromedary was introduced to Egypt and North Africa. Domesticated camels were used through much of North Africa, and the Romans maintained a corps of camel warriors to patrol the edge of the desert. The Persian camels, however, were not particularly suited to trading or travel over the Sahara.
There are currently almost 13 million domesticated dromedaries, mostly in the area from Western India via Pakistan through Iran to northern Africa. None survive in the wild in their original range, although the escaped population of Australian feral camels is estimated to number at least 500,000. Modern domesticated dromedaries are used for milk and meat and as beasts of burden for cargo and passengers. Unlike horses, they kneel for the loading of passengers and cargo.
The Bronx Zoo, located within the Bronx Park, is the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States, comprising 265 acres of parklands and naturalistic habitats and home to over 4,000 animals. Focused on conservation, it opened on November 8, 1899, with 22 exhibits, 843 animals. The zoo's origins date back to 1895, with the establishment of the New york Zoological Society (NYZS), renamed Wild Conservation Scoiety (WCS) in 1993. Only the outer structure of the World of Reptiles remains much as it was in 1899. With the 1941 opening of African Plains, the Bronx Zoo was one of the first U.S. zoos to move away from cages and exhibit animals in naturalistic habitats.
Coachella Valley milk vetch
Image by USFWS Pacific Southwest Region
The Coachella Valley milk-vetch is an endangered plant. The Coachella Valley is located at the northern extension of the Colorado Desert and is bordered by the Salton Sea to the south and the Little San Bernandino Mountains to the north. Sand that washes down drainages during flood events accumulates at the bottom of the drainages, then is dispersed throughout the Valley by the continual high winds that blow through the area. This ever-shifting sand forms a complex system of sand dunes that support a variety of native desert species.
Originally, about 270 square miles of the Coachella Valley may have been covered with loose, wind blown sand. Disruption of the sand transport corridors and the impacts of development have eliminated the majority of the historic “blowsand habitat” in the Coachella Valley. The total remaining “blowsand” habitat is about 50 square miles in size and occurs in relatively fragmented patches from San Gorgonio Pass southeast through the Valley to Indio, California.
Why is the sand dune ecosystem important?
The sand dune ecosystem of the Coachella Valley supports a variety of animals and plants specially adapted to living in the harsh desert environment. These distinct and sometimes rare species have evolved because the blowsand deposits of the Valley are relatively isolated from other areas by the surrounding mountain ranges. The threatened Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard, the endangered Coachella Valley milk vetch, Coachella Valley round-tailed ground squirrel, Coachella Valley giant sand treader cricket, and the Coachella Valley Jerusalem cricket are among the variety of species that occur in this specialized “blowsand” habitat. (USFWS)