Field Note: Nature
Hi everyone! Today we will be looking at a special animal called the camel. Camels are very popular and special here in Morocco. We will learn some pretty exciting things about this animal.
The camel was first brought to the western Sahara region of Morocco over 500 years ago. Camels need very little maintenance. They can manage long distances. Soon, they became even more popular than horses and oxen.
Camels allowed trade caravans to cross the desert carrying all sorts of goods from one place to another. The camels not only carried goods, but also carried ideas. The camels allowed merchants to carry the message of Islam. The camels enabled Islam to spread across the region.
What does this creature or plant look like?
The camel is an animal that walks on four very long, thin legs and has humps on its back. Some species have one hump, and some have two. It also has a long and curvy neck and a long face. It has big teeth and a thick layer of wooly hair on its skin, which is usually light brown in color. Each of its legs has two broad toes so that the camel does not sink in the desert’s sand.
How did I feel when I saw it?
One day about two months ago, we were on the beach in the city of Agadir. My friends and I decided to ride some camels. I was very excited, especially since it was one of the things I had on my list of adventures to do before leaving Morocco.
The herders quickly brought four camels. Do you know what a camel herder is? These are men who take care of the camels by giving them food and water and keeping their hair clean. The herders instructed the camels by gently tapping them with a thin stick. The camels knew when to sit, stand, walk or stop.
When I saw the camel, all my excitement went away. I became scared instead. They were standing on very thing legs and were very tall, much taller than I had expected. After the camels had walked over to us, they lowered themselves and sat in the sand for us to mount onto their backs. Since I was afraid of the height, I decided not to ride one, but my friends did. The camels had little wooden seats covered with cloth put onto their backs, kind of like a little chair. This makes the ride more comfortable.
My friends got onto the camels’ backs and screamed out as the animals stood up! It was very shaky and they were scared they would fall off. However, they held on tightly. I watched and took pictures for our albums. I also looked at one of the camels as it chewed. I also saw that lots of saliva was dribbling from one camel’s mouth. It is said that they salivate a lot because it helps them to eat thick desert plants. I noticed that all the camels also had droopy looking eyelids.
My friends and I were told to wear long pants with socks and sneakers when riding a camel. Fleas like camels’ hair. Staying covered up stops the fleas from getting onto the rider’s skin.
I felt happy to see camels because they are a famous creature. I certainly would not have seen camels in New York. I felt that this was a very rare experience for me.
Where does it live?
Camels are present in the North African and Middle Eastern region. There are also some in South Asia. In Morocco, they are found in many places, but especially the Western Sahara desert. They are there because they are well adapted to the desert’s environment. Many tourists visit that area, too, and tourists love to be able to ride camels in the desert. There are camel herders who even live there in tents, waiting for visitors to come.
How does it use its environment to survive?
Camels can survive the harsh conditions of the desert, which is very hot and has little or no water. Camels can go for many days without any water, which makes them the ideal animal for long journeys across the large desert. Scientists once believed that the camel stored water in its humps. However, many people instead now believe that the humps contain fat, which insulates the camels in the heat. Therefore, the camel does not lose a lot of water to evaporation. This is wonderful, isn’t it? The camel is the ideal desert creature.
What can harm this creature? Are we worried about it?
Perhaps the biggest threat to camels here is humans. Camels are used for milk, which I never tried. Getting it from the camel is harmless. However, camel meat is used for making camel burgers, which some of my friends have tried and enjoyed. One of my teachers in the U.S. came here a few years ago and she is encouraging me to eat one. Somehow, though, I doubt I will ever eat a camel burger.