HYBRID CAMELS

OLD WORLD CAMELS

Bactrian camels have 2 humps and are robust, heavy-coated cold-climate camels. Dromedaries have one hump and are finer boned and lighter coated desert dwellers. Both have evolved to withstand a dry environment. Cross breeding of Dromedary and Bactrian camel occurs in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Iran, Russia and Turkey to produce a fast-maturing hybrid that is larger, stronger and more docile than either parent. The hybrids can be over 7.5 ft at the shoulder and weigh up to 2200 lb. They have a single, elongated hump from shoulder to rump. Hybrid camels are used as draft animals and are more tractable than the parent species. The faster maturation means they reach working size sooner than the purebred parents. In Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan hybrid camels are known as Tulu, Majen, Iver and Bertuar. In Kazakhstan they are called Bukhts. In Iran the males are known as Boghor and the females as Hachamaia.

In Kazakhstan, female Bactrian-Dromedary hybrids may be crossed back to a Bactrian resulting in a three-quarter bred Bactrian (also known as F2 Bactrian) used as a riding camels. These have 75% Bactrian genes and have 2 humps, but are less robust in type than purebred Bactrian camels. They are generally faster than Bactrians and stronger than Dromedaries.

The converse back-crossing of a female Bactrian-Dromedary hybrid to a Dromedary is less common. This produces a three-quarter bred Dromedary (also known as F2 Dromedary) that is larger and stronger than a purebred Dromedary. These have 75% Dromedary genes and have a single hump, but are more robust in type than a Dromedary.

Genetic differences (an additional 3 genes and metabolic differences allowing it to drink brackish water) means the endangered Wild Bactrian is considered a separate species from the domesticated Bactrian. Wild Bactrians and escaped Domestic Bactrians interbreed endangering the purity of the wild species.

NEW WORLD CAMELIDS

The South American Camelids can be hybridized. A male Alpaca/female Llama result in a Huarizo. A male Vicuna/female Alpaca result in a Paco-vicuna. A female Alpaca/male Llama result in a Misti. A male Vicuna/female Llama result in a Llamo-vicuna. A male Alpaca/female Guanaco result in a Paco-guanaco. A male Guanaco/female Llama result in a Llama-guanaco (unusual in that the sire's name should form the first part of the hybrid's name). A Llama/Alpaca cross which resembles the Llama parent is known as a Warilla; if it resembles the Alpaca parent it is called a T'aqa.

DROMEDARY-LLAMA HYBRIDS

The Cama is a camel/llama hybrid bred by scientists who wanted to see how closely related the parent species were. The Dromedary Camel is six times the weight of a Llama, hence artificial insemination was required to impregnate the Llama female (Llama male to Dromedary female have proven unsuccessful). Though born even smaller than a Llama calf, the Cama had the short ears and long tail of a camel, no hump and Llama-like cloven hooves rather than the Dromedary-like pads. At four years old, the Cama became sexually mature and interested in Llama and Guanaco females.

A second Cama (female) has since been produced using artificial insemination.

Because Camels and Llamas both have 74 chromosomes, scientists hope that the Cama will be fertile. If so, there is potential for increasing size, meat/wool yield and pack/draft ability in South American camels. The Cama apparently inherited the poor temperament of both parents as well as demonstrating the relatedness of the New World and Old World camelids.

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