Camels belong to two large species of ruminating hoofed mammals found in arid Africa and Asia – although a feral population of dromedary camels exists in Australia.
Historically, camels have been used as draft and saddle animals. Nevertheless, they are ungulates and have natural predators.
Dromedary camels in Africa are considered domestic. Nevertheless, they still constitute prey for leopards, lions, and hyenas. Wolves are the main predators of Bactrian camels in the wild . Wolves and snow leopards alike might also go after domesticated Bactrian camels. Feral camel populations in Australia have no natural predators, but they could be targeted by wild dogs and dingoes.
Here is a quick list of all known camel predators:
- Snow leopards
- Wild dogs
Dromedary Camel Predators
Dromedary camels – characterized by one hump – are the camel species that usually come to mind when thinking of camels.
They are found in Africa, and according to scientists, they are not wild animals.
In fact, dromedary camels have become extinct in the wild a long time ago. They are the largest domesticated livestock species in the world, and the first dromedaries were domesticated around 7,000 years ago.
Scientists concluded that dromedary camels became extinct in the wild around 2,000 years after the first domestication, meaning that wild dromedaries haven’t been a thing for at least 5,000 years.
As domestic animals, dromedary camels are used for utilitarian and transport purposes or kept as livestock for their milk and meat.
Nevertheless, they still have some natural predators.
Camel Predators In The Desert
Dromedary camels occupy arid regions in Africa and the Middle East, all the way through India. Most notably, however, their geographic range centers around the Sahara Desert.
African lions don’t roam the deserts like they used to, but they are present in the sub-Saharan regions. In periods of scarce food availability, they can attack caravans and prey on camels.
Asian lions can also target dromedary camels, mostly calves and young adults.
Lions aside, researchers found that dromedary camels are also predated by leopards and hyenas.
Elephants are also known to kill camels, even though these occurrences are most likely accidental (elephants are herbivores, and they don’t eat meat).
Bactrian Camel Predators
While dromedary camels are extinct in the wild, Bactrian camels (that have two rather than one humps) exist as both domesticated and wild animals.
Their geographic range spans from Afghanistan to China, occupying all of Central Asia. However, they are mostly concentrated around the Gobi Desert.
The top predator in the area is the snow leopard, a wild cat that can grow up to 4.25 feet and 165 pounds.
However, like most big cats, snow leopards are solitary animals, and they might find it difficult to take down a camel that grows over seven feet tall and weighs over 1,800 pounds.
For this reason, snow leopards don’t usually go after wild Bactrian camels. They do, however, go after domesticated camels. Like lions and leopards, they usually choose calves or young adults that are easier to kill.
Wolves are the main predators of wild Bactrian camels. The reason is likely linked to the wolves’ social structure – these mammals live and hunt in packs, so they can easily take down a large animal.
Once again, because of the size of adult camels, wolves mostly target calves.
Scientists believe that wolf predation on camel calves represents one of the reasons why wild Bactrian camels are listed as critically endangered species, and this concern even triggered wolf control measures in the Gobi region in the past.
Camel Predators in Australia
Although dromedary camels are considered domesticated animals, they were introduced as a feral species in Australia in 1840. Today, the country has the largest – and only – population of feral dromedaries in the world, counting over 1 million individuals.
According to the Australian government, feral camels have no known predators. However, starved dingoes and wild dogs could sometimes target calves.
All camels are large animals that can grow over seven feet tall and weigh over 1,500 pounds. There are few predators that target such large mammals.
In their natural habitat, wild Bactrian camels are mostly prayed by wolves. Snow leopards mostly target domesticated young animals.
Dromedary camels are extinct in the wild. However, domesticated individuals can become prey for lions, hyenas, and leopards.
Feral dromedaries in Australia are the only ones that have no natural predators. Nevertheless, wild dogs and dingoes can sometimes attack young camels.
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