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Camels At this time of the year we see many images Christmas cards of camels carrying the Magi or, as they are often called, Three Kings or Three Wise Men on their long journey to present gifts to Christ. Here are some facts about these faithful, patient animals who we see pictured on the front cover of this magazine. Camels belong to the group of animals known as ungulates – animals with hooves, and in common with pigs and giraffes is an even toed ungulate. The term ‘camel’ is derived from Latin and Greek meaning ‘going without’ and ‘repaying in kind’. Baby camels are born without humps. They are however able to run within hours of birth. They call to their mothers with a lamb-like “baa” sound. Mother and child camel pairings are extremely close, staying together for several years. The two surviving species of camel are the Dromedary, or one humped camel which inhabits the Horn of Africa, and the Bactrian, or two humped camel found in Central Asia. It was once believed that camels stored water in their humps but these are actually reservoirs of concentrated fatty tissue. Thus when properly cared for the camel can go without food and water for long periods of time. The kidneys and intestines of a camel are very efficient at reabsorbing water. Both species have been domesticated and are very useful as they provide hair for textiles, meat, and milk - a staple food of desert nomad tribes. Their mouths have a thick leathery lining allowing them to chew thorny desert plants. They perform tasks ranging from human transport to bearing loads and are popular in the tourist industry. Camels live for between forty and fifty years and a fully-grown adult stands at 1.85metres (6 feet 1 inch) at the shoulder and 2.15metres (7 feet 1 inch) at the hump. Dromedaries weigh about 300 to 600kg (660-1320lb). They can sustain speeds of up to twenty-five miles an hour and can run at forty miles an hour in short bursts. Long eyelashes and ear hairs, together with nostrils that can close, form a barrier against sand. If sand gets lodged in their eyes, they can dislodge it using their transparent third eyelid. The camels' widened feet help them move without sinking into the sand. There are around 14 million camels alive today, with 90% being dromedaries. The only truly wild Bactrian (two humped) camels, of which there are less than one thousand, are thought to inhabit the Gobi Desert in China and Mongolia. 29

Crosstalk Magazine December 2015 January 2016  

The Christmas edition of Crosstalk magazine

Crosstalk Magazine December 2015 January 2016  

The Christmas edition of Crosstalk magazine

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