Are Camels the best overall pack animals?
The answer will depend on several factors, but in general, camels may well be the best overall domesticated pack animal on the planet! It all depends on one’s perspective and geographical location, since camels are definitely not found all over the world.
6“A multitude of camels will cover you,
The young camels of Midian and Ephah;
All those from Sheba will come;
They will bring gold and frankincense,
And will bear good news of the praises of the LORD. - Isaiah 60:6
Wikipedia has the following to say about camels and camel products:
Domesticated Bactrian camels have served as pack animals in inner Asia since ancient times. With its tolerance for cold, drought, and high altitudes, it enabled the travel of caravans on the Silk Road.
Bactrian camels were imported to the US several times in the mid- to late 1800s, both by the US military and by merchants and miners, looking for pack animals sturdier and hardier than horses and mules. - Bactrian camels
Camels are able to carry truly heavy loads.
Humans have used camels as a means of transport for thousands of years. They can carry about 375 to 600 lbs. (170 to 270 kilograms) on their backs, according to National Geographic. This earned these beasts of burden a nickname, "ships of the desert." Domestic camels are often the main source of meat, milk and even leather or wool products. - Camels: Facts, Types & Pictures
The fact that they can carry such weight is impressive. The weight that a camel can carry is only rivalled by the yak as a pack animal, which can carry equally heavy loads for short durations.
These amazing creatures will eat almost anything except meat. They herbivores after all.
Camels aren't picky about what they eat. Their thick lips allow them to eat things that most other animals couldn't, such as thorny plants. Camels are herbivores, though, so you won't find them eating meat.
Filling up on water, when it's available, is very important for camels. They can drink 30 gallons (113 liters) of water in just 13 minutes. Their bodies rehydrate faster than any other mammal.
When there is little food and water, the camel's hump fat releases water; 9.3 grams of fat releases 1.13 grams of water, according to research by the University of Singapore. - Camels: Facts, Types & Pictures
Camels do have a low feed requirements. However, when packing supplies their water intact at times could be impressive.
The grazing camel has low feed requirements (Gauthier-Pilters, 1979). They eat 8–12 kg of dry matter a day, about 30–40 kg of fresh pasture with 80 percent water content. But normal daily feed intake averages 10–20 kg fresh feed, i.e. 5–10 kg dry matter a day. The amount most frequently eaten was 6–7 kg of dry matter a day. This is a most important observation when discussing other methods of housing and feeding. In addition, the feed intake observation applies to an animal understanding standard work consisting of carrying 120 kg for 6 hours a day at 5 kg per hour. Camels can thrive for months by eating only 5 kg of dry fodder a day. The minimum ration is about 2 kg a day, recorded in the drought of 1973.
Although water is an essential part of an animal's diet, the camel can survive long periods without drinking, and then replenish the loss in a very short time (Schmidt-Nielsen, 1964; Yagil, et al., 1974). Nevertheless, water needs are dictated nor only by the climate, but also by feed (GautierPilters, 1979). (In autumn, when grazing on Acacia, the camels requires 4 ½ liters of water per day.) This increases to 13 liters in the spring and reaches 30 liters a day when grazing on salty pastures. In sourthern Algeria, during the summer season, eating evergreen bushes supplies the equivalent of 15–20 liters of water a day. Even on dry food, straw and concentrated feed, the camel is unaffected by a lack of water for up to ten days or more (Yagil, et al., 1974). From October to May there is so much fluid in the vegetation that the camel does not require drinking water (Gauthier-Pilters, 1979; Macfarlane, 1977; Schmidt-Nielsen, 1956).
The mechanisms that enable the camel to go long periods without water are those which allow for a low rate of water loss and a high tolerance to dehydration (Gauthier-Pilters, 1979). Even though body weight losses of 40 percent can be found, camels only stop eating after more than a third of the body weight is lost. The rapid replenishment of losses (Yagil, et al., 1974) and the fact that the camels do not muddy water supplies mean a far more efficient utilization of water (Dahl and Hjort, 1979). The same mechanisms allow the dehydrated, lactating camel to produce diluted milk (Yagil and Etzion, 1980). However, water supplies must be readily available as a herd of camels will drink large amounts in a very short time, so that slowly drawing buckets of water from a well will not suffice.
Water is an essential element for lactating animals, both for drinking and for the growth of vegetation. Both sheep (Stephenson, et al., 1980) and cattle (Bianca, 1965) need free access to water for adequate lactation. Lactating sheep and cattle have a much higher obligatory water turnover. Water is also essential to the camel, even though the milk production is unaffected by seven days of dehydration (Yagil and Etzion, 1980). When introducing plants into the camel's grazing areas, vegetation which is drought resistant and requires minimal water must be chosen. When referring to the radius of grazing for various animals (Schmidt-Nielsen, 1965, it appears that the camels has, by far, the greatest grazing radius. This can also be used in planning a better exploitation of the water resources and introduction of plants. - VIII. MANAGEMENT
Trekking through the desert with camels has the benefit of being able a little camel milk if you have a lactating female in the group with you. Camel milk has been a part of traditional diets for certain nomadic populations throughout history. It has recently gained attention as a health food in more developed countries.
Camels have long been a valued part of Middle Eastern culture thanks to their hardiness and, in particular, their ability to remain active even when little water is available.
In conditions that would defeat creatures such as horses, tough-as-old-boots camels can just keep on going.
But the value they have brought to humankind has, for a long time, extended beyond lugging around loads and carrying people from place to place.
Their milk has been drunk by people since as far back as 5,000 years ago and, thanks to its ready availability in supermarkets here, many UAE residents enjoy a glass or two with their meals.
Those who drank camel milk in past millennia were onto a good thing, because modern-day science has shed light on a host of health benefits associated with its consumption. - How camel milk could be better for you than anyone imagined
Once again Wikipedia has the following to say about camel’s milk:
Camel milk is a staple food of desert nomad tribes and is sometimes considered a meal itself; a nomad can live on only camel milk for almost a month.
Camel milk can readily be made into yogurt, but can only be made into butter if it is soured first, churned, and a clarifying agent is then added. Until recently, camel milk could not be made into camel cheese because rennet was unable to coagulate the milk proteins to allow the collection of curds. Developing less wasteful uses of the milk, the FAO commissioned Professor J.P. Ramet of the École Nationale Supérieure d'Agronomie et des Industries Alimentaires, who was able to produce curdling by the addition of calcium phosphate and vegetable rennet in the 1990s. The cheese produced from this process has low levels of cholesterol and is easy to digest, even for the lactose intolerant.
Camel milk can also be made into ice cream. - Camel
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