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Nature offers a window on global natural history, providing a unique insight into the natural world, the environment, and the magnificent creatures that inhabit it.
LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 23 February
Huw Cordey
Monday 23 February 2004
Wild Bactrian Camels in the Great Gobi National Park
Wild Bactrian Camels in the Great Gobi National Park

The Last Wild Camels

Camels have aided man throughout history having been domesticated thousands of years ago.  To this day they play a vital role in helping man survive in some of the remotest places on the planet.  Known as "the ship of the desert", they are superbly adapted to the harshest conditions imaginable and mainly associated in people's minds with stifingly hot, dry deserts.
A domesticated Bactrian camel
A domesticated Bactrian camel

Deserts are places of extremes and surprises and the Gobi desert which straddles the border between Mongolia and China certainly has extremes and some surprises.  It has boiling temperatures during the summer but snow and temperatures well below freezing for the other half of the year.  Living within a protected part of the Gobi Desert - the Great Gobi National Park - are the last truly wild Bactrian camels in the world.  Bactrian camels are those with two humps.  Camels are well known for surviving in difficult environments but the Gobi Desert in the depths of winter can plummet to minus forty degrees Centigrade.
The film crew, scientists and Mongolian camel trackers
The film crew, scientists and Mongolian camel trackers

In this Nature programme, wildlife film-maker Huw Cordey travels to Mongolia to join some camel scientists and Mongolian trackers on the trail of these wild camels.   He experiences first-hand the extreme cold of a desert winter and the harsh beauty of the Gobi desert itself - one of the few remaining wildernesses in the world.  He finds out from the scientists how important it is to protect this last population of wild camels.  Referred to by scientists as an "umbrella species", by protecting the camels, the Gobi desert and the other wildlife found there will also be protected too.
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