A home of its own

Published: Sunday 15 September 1996

the last of the Bactrian camels - between 730 to 880 - living in the sparse deserts of Gashun Gobi and Taklimakan along the Sino-Mongolian border, may soon have a sanctuary for themselves. A hairy creature with bald knees, large feet and two small humps, the Camelus bactrianus ferus is internationally recognised as an endangered species. A smaller and lighter version of the domestic camel, the wild Bactrian is shy but tough. Recent dna tests carried out on a specimen at the Bronx Zoo in New York, by the Wildlife Conservation Society revealed that the wild camel's genetic make-up could be quite different from the domestic variety.

The camel has had to contend with underground nuclear tests occurring in its vicinity in the near past. But hopefully, these would end as China continued its negotiations for a worldwide ban on nuclear tests.The reserve, which is likely to come up in the Lop Nor nature sanctuary, is estimated to cost under us 1$ million. China's national environment protection agency has agreed to cover staff and management costs for 10 years. Other funds are to be sought mostly from the World Bank's global environment facility.

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