​Rare Baby Camel Makes First Public Appearance

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April 16, 2021

A rare baby camel named “Ilias” was born on April 9, and he made his first public appearance at the Budapest Zoo in Hungary on April 15. The young camel belongs to the endangered wild Bactrian species, also known as the Camelus bactrianus ferus species.

Ilias was seen with his eight-year-old mother Iris, whose maternal line has lived at the zoo for several generations.

Rare Baby’s Father

The rare baby’s father arrived from another zoo at Miskolc from north-eastern Hungary, but he was shown only to the members of the media.

“When he was born there were problems, the baby was looking for milk from the mother, but as this was her first baby she had no experience,” Zoltan Hanga, a spokesperson for Budapest Zoo told AFP. “Us zookeepers had to hold down the mother and gently help the baby to feed.”

Unlike Arabian camels, which have a single hump, Bactrian camels have two humps. Wild Bactrian camels are found in the Gobi and Gashun Gobi deserts of northwest China and Mongolia where vegetation is sparse, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list of threatened species.

“Due to the reduction in water points (oases) because of drought, wolves have increased their predation of Wild Bactrian Camels. This activity is concentrated at the remaining water points in the area. The remaining habitat in Mongolia is also being degraded by domestic livestock,” according to IUCN. The animals are also killed for food and sport.

Camel Population

The camel population has been dwindling with the total number of species standing at slightly more than 900. But official estimates could be even lower.

“It is estimated from information received from the Protected Area staff and Mongolian scientists working in the ‘Great Gobi Reserve A’ that in Mongolia, 25 to 30 Wild Bactrian Camels are being killed annually when they migrate across the international border into China on the southernmost boundary of the protected area ‘Great Gobi Reserve A’. The hunting is mainly for local subsistence use,” states IUCN, which estimates that there will be at least an 84 percent reduction in their population size by 2033.