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China protects rare camel species using GPS

China: Scientists at the Institute of Remote Sensing Applications (IRSA) attached GPS trackers to five wild Bactrian camels living in the deserts of northwest China’s Gansu province and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region to track and better protect the endangered animal – which is rarer than the giant panda.

Liu Shaochuang, a researcher with the IRSA, under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the animal’s population, migration routes and habits are not clearly known. “One way to find out where wild camels go, where they drink and what kinds of threats they face is to utilise GPS technology, which will help experts draw up plans to better protect the wild camels’ water sources and define their protection zone,” Liu said.

The positioning data sent back in May showed the five wild camels travelled several hundred kilometers around the Kumtag Desert. Some even traversed the entire desert from north to south. “During the investigation, we found that humans are often very close to wild camels and are their main threat. If no effective protective measures are taken immediately, wild camels might become extinct within 50 years,” Liu noted.

Bactrian camels are the last remaining wild camels. Experts estimate that fewer than 1,000 wild Bactrian camels currently live in the harsh deserts of China and Mongolia. The animal is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Source: China Daily