A Step Closer to China’s Wild Camels

Yuan LeiYuan Lei is currently preparing to go into the field to begin his research into the main threats facing the wild Bactrian camel population in the Lop Nur Nature Reserve in northwestern China.

Lop Nur Nature Reserve covers a huge area (some 65,000 sq km), and was created in 1999 to protect some of China’s last remaining groups of wild camel.  Yuan Lei has already participated in a number of behavioural and ecological studies of wild camels in the reserve.  The data he has collected from past expeditions will be combined with the information he and Adiya will be collecting during their EDGE Fellowships to produce specific conservation recommendations for wild camels.

Last month Yuan Lei collected data on the location of water points and mines in the reserve.  Although camels can go for long periods without water, they still need to drink, and researchers fear that water points may be drying up due to drought.  Mining is also a threat to wild camels because the chemicals to extract gold pollute the water supplies, sometimes poisoning the camels.

Yuan Lei plans to increase our knowledge of wild camels and to assess the impact of other threats such as hunting, overgrazing and hybridization with domestic camels.  He has designed a comprehensive questionnaire which he will use to interview local herders to collect important data on how their activities might be impacting on the camels.  The questionnaire protocol was developed in collaboration with ZSL researchers, the Wild Camel Protection Foundation and Adiya, who is implementing a similar study in Mongolia.

Yuan Lei plans to travel to the reserve in three days time to interview herders in the area of the Arjin Mountains, east of Lop Nur.

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