Chinese conservationists say the critically endangered Bactrian camel has doubled its numbers thanks to the establishment of a large preserve and increased wildlife management.
Mangement of the desert dwellers arid preserve has also been a boon to other creatures including snow leopards, Pallas’ cats, dholes and brown bears.
The news was reported in The Global Times. The Global Times is an English language Chinese newspaper affiliated with The People’s Daily. The People’s Daily is an official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.
Bactria is an area of Central Asia centered around Afghanistan and surrounding areas. Bactrian Camels are Central Asian steppe dwellers. Weighing up to 2,200 pounds they are the largest members of the camel family. There are several million domesticated Camelus bactrianus, but that is not the story with their wild relatives. Their wild relatives, Camelus ferus, are critically endangered and found only in Mongolia and parts of China.
The camels ae dwellers of the Gobi Desert and their total number is thought to be under 1,000. According to the Global Times:
” In 1986, the local government established the Lop Nor Wild Bactrian Camel Nature Reserve. In 2003, with the approval of China’s State Council, the reserve was upgraded to a national-level reserve. Since the establishment of the 61,200 square kilometer reserve, the management has implemented scientific wildlife protection measures and comprehensively strengthened the management of biodiversity protection in. In recent years, the reserve has made significant progress in surveying and monitoring the species. The administration has strengthened basic management capacity, established automatic ecological monitoring stations, video monitoring platforms,and patrol and law enforcement supervision systems.”
Lop Nur is a dry lake bed in the Gobi. The camels now number an estimated 600.
According to the Wild Camel Preservation Foundation the camels are number eight on the list of most endangered large mammals. The foundation says the camels are an “umbrella species” meaning that efforts to preserve them help to preserve other species in the desert and the mountains that surround it. Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) inhabit the mountains and Gobi Bears (Urus arctos gobiensis) , Gobi Vipers (Gloydius intermedius) and Gobi gazelle (Gazella subguttorosa) inhabit the reserve. Gobi bears are a critically endangered subspecies of the brown bear.
Recently, China has announced success in protecting snow leopards and other large mammals in Tibet. Chinese media says that the snow leopard population in Tibet is stable and that other species are benefitting from increased protection. Chinese scientists also claim to have made a major genetic breakthrough. They say they have “re-created” a mammal with “fully reprogrammed” genes. If so, that could be a major breakthrough in genetic studies – but one with serious potential downsides.