CMS, Wild Camel Protection Foundation Launch Educational Project to Save Wild Camels

6 February 2012: The UN Environment Programme/Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (UNEP/CMS) Secretariat and the Wild Camel Protection Foundation have launched a project to help raise public awareness on the critically endangered wild Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus ferus) and its ecological role for the deserts of Mongolia and China.

The project, funded by the Mohamed bin-Zayed Species Conservation Fund, will conduct an education programme to raise awareness among local people about the importance of wild camels and the potential negative effects of cross-breeding between wild and domestic camels. Educational booklets will be translated in English, Chinese, Uighur and Mongolian, and distributed to schoolchildren in local communities living near the wild camels.

John Hare, Founder of the Wild Camel Protection Foundation, reports that there are only approximately 950 wild bactrian camels left in the world, and all are located in China and Mongolia. Wild Bactrian camels differ physically and genetically from their domestic relatives, and have been listed on CMS Appendix I since the seventh Conference of the Parties to the CMS (COP 7), in 2002. According to the CMS, the Mongolian subpopulation has declined by more than 45 percent since 1985.

Threats to the wild camel populations include human encroachment into protected areas, poaching and hybridization with domestic camels. Border fences and illegal mining activities in protected areas are also considered a potential threat. [CMS News]