Can you tell your camels apart?

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Some of you know that I enjoy writing silly, children’s poems. As I am writing a series of picture books about endangered species, I thought it could be fun to try and write a short poem about each of my animals. Today’s is dedicated to my Bactrian camel character, named Nokor (Mongolian for ‘friend’). 

                                                “One hump or two?”

                                                the nomad asked.

                                               “The Bactrian’s bi,” it replied.

                                               “The Dromedary’s one

                                                just aint half as much fun,

                                               we’ve double the bump when you ride!”

The only truly wild camels that still exist are Bactrian camels. These herds survive in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia and China, but number less than 600!  They are critically endangered in the wild. They prefer a plant diet, but when unavailable, these highly adaptable animals will feed on bones and in very extreme conditions, have been known to eat rope, sandals and tents. Imagine chewing the canvas cud for 12 hours! They have a double layer of lovely, long eyelashes to protect their eyes from sand and ice. It is true that when threatened, like the Dromedary, they can kick or spit (remember Captain Haddock’s experience in Tintin?). I had a lot of fun creating a story about these hardy animals that survive in summer temperatures of up to 40°C(104°F) and in winter down to -20°C(-4°F). Let’s hope that their adaptability and our conscience can prevent this animal’s extinction!

A fun National Geographic Kids video on the Bactrian Camel.

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25 Responses to Can you tell your camels apart?

  1. Diane says:

    Love your cute poem Joanna. Many of the feral camels run wild in Australia in the deserts and becoming pests. Mostly domedairies and a few bactrian introduced from China and Mongolia. About one million in Australia. Although I have ridden a camel, I still don’t think I could tell them apart…lol.

  2. Joanna says:

    Thanks, Diane. In Mongolia many of the wild bactrian were interbred with domestic ones, hence why the truly ferla ones are so few. Where did you ride your camel?

    • Diane says:

      I rode one in Australia in the outback. It had two humps, and made sure I stayed away from his head (knowing they spit) I remember him being very noisy. In the middle of Australia they hold camel races once a year. Very interesting to.

  3. Wow, that’s so interesting! When I first started reading your post I thought, “Wait, camels are endangered???” Now I understand. Great idea for a PB series and cute poem too!

    • Joanna says:

      I think most of us know the Dromedary, but not so often the Bactrian camel. It is certainly fun telling the stories from the threatened animals point of view!

  4. Carla says:

    I’ve been fascinated with camels since I rode one (Dromedary, of course!) in China! I bet you’re having a blast with that series–I also love endangered animals!

    • Joanna says:

      I would love to ride a camel. Which part of China? I have spent time working in Beijing and out in and around Kunming in the West. I am having a blast, though it was hard to choose which animals to focus on as there are so many and I feel each deserves to be heard.

  5. Saba says:

    I think camels are really exotic!!

  6. Susanna says:

    Love your poem 🙂 and your idea for picture books about endangered species – I have worked on something similar myself. Are yours fiction or non-fiction? Good luck with them 🙂

    • Joanna says:

      Thanks, Suzanna… They are fiction but with the “problem” at the heart of the story always a genuine threat to the species. Then there is a glossary and facts at the back. Though one person at the SCBWI conference called it literary non-fiction, so I am not sure 🙂 Would love to hear more about what you’ve been doing.

  7. We have camels in Australia, but they’re introduced and mostly used for races in the northern regions. Funny creatures. I don’t even know if they have one lump or two.
    Wagging Tales – Blog for Writers

  8. Patricia Tilton says:

    The poem worked very well with your story. You write so well, not matter which medium. Really enjoyed learning more about the endangered camels. The video was excellent and I enjoyed your sharing it. It was done well. Glad you bring these endangered species to our attention. I appreciate them so much more.


    • Joanna says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Pat. A couple of the species I am writing about I knew very little about myself, before I began researching, including the Bactrian. It has been great fun finding out more about them. I discovered on another blog today, that in Mongolia Librarians ride on the camels to take books out to the nomadic clusters!!

  9. Loved your poem! Have you thought about including these poems as part of the front matter in your picture books?

    Your posts always open my eyes to new things. Thank you.

  10. I love Bactrian camels. I found out about them from watching that wonderful BBC series, Planet Earth. That series actually inspired my own first MG novel, which deals with animal extinction. Thanks for posting this!

  11. Hey, Joanna. I gave you two awards on my blog today.

  12. Pingback: Ode to an Otter | Miss Marple's Musings

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