The camel originates from North America, the product of a very long period of evolution. 4-5 million years ago it spread to Asia across the Bering Strait and became the two-humped species, Camelus Bactrianus. This long-haired camel is widespread in Central Asia. Further mutations developed and the Dromedary, Camelus Dromedarius, evolved. Also known as the Syrian Camel, it is characteristic for its single hump and short hair. They are common throughout the Middle East as far as the horn of Africa and along the entire northern coast as far as Morocco and Niger.
In summer the rain promotes the growth of grass and the camels take full advantage, grazing liberally and accumulating fat for the winter. Used for long journeys in caravans, generally in the winter months, they are at home when the climate is cold and dry with a relative humidity of less than 30% – these conditions are much less tiring for the animals.
The working animals are generally bucks and at least 4 years old. They can be adequately trained and controlled by use of a bridle. They are strongest when 7 or 8 years old and can continue to work until they are 15 to 20 years old. Camels commonly live for 40 years.
With a very soft and robust skin, it is often used for saddles and footwear. Tufts of coarse dark hair, 40-120 mic and often 30cm long, are located on the humps, mane and on the chest. The finest undercoat is on the sides and the neck and this comes to the surface and falls naturally in April and May.
The undercoat is classified into three grades:
- Baby: young camels of up to 2 years – 16.5-17.5micron, 1-2kg of raw, 35-40mm length
- Females: 19.0micron, 2-3kgs of raw, 40-45mm
- Bucks: 22.0mic, 3.5kg of raw, 45mm and over
The long coarse hair is used for ropes and mattresses. The coarse hair, typically 30-40 mic is used in the padding of winter quilts. The fine undercoat is used for knitwear and weaving and is exported from both China and Mongolia.