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Old March 8th, 2012, 12:24 PM   #1

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Camels in the United States


The U.S. Camel Corps was an experiment by the U.S. Army in the mid-1800's to use camels as pack animals in the South West United States. In early 1856, two shipments of camels were first imported into the United States. There camels (and their offspring), were eventually transporting goods from Texas to Arizona and California.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, the Camel Corp was ended and many of these camels were sold to private land owners or escaped into the wild. Yet, there were reports of wild camels roaming around the United States as late as the 1940's.

My question is, why did feral camels never make it in the American South West? Camels were imported into Australia around the same time and for similar reasons and there are now over a million feral camels in the Australian deserts. Given that the American South West is a similarly harsh environment, one would think that escaped populations of camels would be similarly successful here. Does anyone know why or has anyone read any books or papers on why feral camels didn't make it here in the United States?

Thanks.
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Old March 8th, 2012, 01:14 PM   #2

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This is only a guess, but I would suggest that the camels weren't familiar with the local predators....
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Old March 8th, 2012, 01:24 PM   #3

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This is only a guess, but I would suggest that the camels weren't familiar with the local predators....
Perhaps and presumably there were no natural predators in Australia, given that the big carnivorous land animals were largely extinct at that point. Here in the US, we had (and still have), wolves, coyotes and mountain lions.

But feral horses, the famous Mustangs, would have run into the same problem with predators and they have adapted quite well in the American West. So well in fact that, to control the population, the US government rounds up thousands of wild Mustangs roaming federal land each year to sell to private individuals.
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Old March 8th, 2012, 03:00 PM   #4

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Possibly not enough female camels to allow a sustainable breeding population
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Old March 8th, 2012, 04:02 PM   #5

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Easy to see a combination of all the above.
The early females died off, no offspring produced, larger American
predators and I don't know what camels do to protect themselves,
but I somehow don't think it equates how a wild horse can. Plus
a horse can get away faster from predators that a camel could.
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Old March 8th, 2012, 04:21 PM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjadams View Post
Easy to see a combination of all the above.
The early females died off, no offspring produced, larger American
predators and I don't know what camels do to protect themselves,
but I somehow don't think it equates how a wild horse can. Plus
a horse can get away faster from predators that a camel could.
Camels are a lot faster than you think.

Perhaps it's the female issue or perhaps there were just not that many camels imported into the US to sustain a population. I just thought it was strange given that there are hundreds of thousands in Australia right now.
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Old March 8th, 2012, 04:28 PM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by dimmit View Post
Camels are a lot faster than you think.
When comparing get away speed between a horse and a camel, I think
the equine wins.
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Old March 8th, 2012, 05:03 PM   #8

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An especially interesting question, being that camels are believed to have originated in the Americas first, and then spread into asia later (same with horses).

I imagine that they may not have survived as a feral species because of the ratio of males to females mentioned earlier... But I'm not sure, would male camels or female camels predominate in a military unit?

Horses thrived as a valuable trade commodity after European / Amerindian contact, but the camel corps seems like a more isolated event, in general.
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Old March 8th, 2012, 05:50 PM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjadams View Post
Easy to see a combination of all the above.
The early females died off, no offspring produced, larger American
predators and I don't know what camels do to protect themselves,
but I somehow don't think it equates how a wild horse can. Plus
a horse can get away faster from predators that a camel could.
don't camels spit when they are ticked off? never heard of them being dangerous so they would be easy prey for the predators in that area. camels also have the honor of being the ugliest animals on earth
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Old March 8th, 2012, 05:55 PM   #10

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Maybe the indigenous peoples found them rather tasty.
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