Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It’s nearly time for……

CAMEL RACING!!!!!!! Yes, this is the news I know you’ve been waiting for. As of October 1st, the most anticipated date in the Dubai diary (well, my diary, anyway) arrives! Yes, the chance to get up close and personal with the amazing ‘Ships of the Desert’ as they compete in the weekly camel racing events. I cannot wait – as I’m sure you can tell.

The camel race track is about ten minutes from home – across the road from the aptly placed Camel Hospital. Yes, I have considered applying for a job there. My options may be restricted by the fact that I am mainly interested in camel stroking, rather than blood, guts and gore, but hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained!

So anyway, apparently the camels that race are mainly laydeee camels – they are faster and better suited to running. IN YOUR FACE boy camels! They do not have jockeys (although in the past I think small children rode the camels – less said about that the better) instead they apparently have ‘robots’ on their backs. Before you start thinking Terminator style, the photos that I have seen of said robots resemble s a small box rather than a metal human being.

As you may be able to tell, I think camels are magnificent beasts. Here are some fascinating camel facts:

Camels have a third thin eyelid that theycan see through. Hair inside the ears helps to keep sand out.
The hump is filled with fat. The hump will shrink if the camel does not eat.
They are called Ships-of-the-Desert because they can carry heavy loads. Camels can carry as much as 1,000 pounds
"Riding camels" can travel up to 100 miles in one day.
A camel can drink 27 gallons of water in 10 minutes
Camels are desert animals. Very few animals live in the desert; most of them are small, like beetles and lizards. Small animals can easily find shade and enough water and food, but for big animals it is much harder.
People drink camel milk and use camel dung to make their fires when there is no firewood.
In return desert people, (called nomads) give camels water by digging wells and extra food that they buy from farmers.
The camel is one of the oldest domesticated animals, people have been using them for more than 10,000 years.
The camel can go for some days with out drinking water. (Not more than 10 days). The camel conserves water in his body cell and his stomach. Conserving means he doesn't waste water through sweating, breathing or urinating.
He is able to live on very poor vegetation during the dry summer months.
The fat stored in the hump will provide him with enough energy to reach good grazing.
He has very long legs to keep his big body high off the hot ground.
Even when he sits down his belly will not touch the ground, he has a pillow like callus under his chest to balance him and make it comfortable for him to rest on the sand, even when it is hot.
Camels knees have very hard skin to protect them when they rest
The young are born in the rainy season when there is plenty of grazing.
A female camel is pregnant for about 13 months and she will only have offspring every 2-3 years.
The camel’s eyes are protected by long eyelashes. In a desert storm he can still keep walking and find his way.
The ears are small and very hairy, to keep flying sand from entering.
The nostrils can close completely or leave just a tiny opening for breathing.
His coat is thick to insulate against both heat and cold. The desert is very hot during the day (32C.-45C.), but gets very cold at night. (Almost freezing!).
There are two species of camels: The Dromedary, characterized by one hump and long legs, lives in the deserts of Arabia and Africa. The Bactrian camel has 2 humps and is shorter with a very thick coat. The Bactrian lives in northern Asia, China and Afghanistan, in areas called "steppe" that are mostly grasslands.

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