The Canarian camel unique to Europe

The Dromedary Camels of the Canary Islands are the only camel population officially registered in Europe. There are 846 specimens on the islands characterized by a strong build and of medium-size for the species.

The camel was not only of basic utility when working agricultural fields but also served well on the landscape of much of the archipelago transporting people and various goods. Today the camel population are preserved almost exclusively on the eastern islands, where they are still used in some farming but mainly in tourist activities.

Their specific outstanding qualities include their ability to adapt to the rustic environments in which they are kept. This is a species perfectly adapted to the terrain, climate and food resources of the Canary Islands.

The Canarian camel was included in the Official Catalogue of Livestock Breeds of Spain, in February 2012, thanks to work done by the Canarian Camel Breeders Association.

The Canarian camel dropped significantly from the beginning of the 20th century due to increased mechanisation of farm work, which also affected other species such as horses and donkeys widely used in rural areas as beasts of burden.

The history of Camel in the Canary Islands dates back to European colonization of the islands, without there being any prehispanic evidence of the existence of this species. The camel (Camelus dromedarius) is thought to have possibly been brought to the islands from around 1405, from the Africa, accompanying Moorish expeditions, however it is not until the end of the 15th century, after the Hispanic conquest, that we see a greater likelihood of them having been imported along with other cattle and crops as a result of Spanish raids on the African coastlines and inland, bringing new slaves and workers to increase the populations of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. Good adaptation resulted in their expansion throughout the archipelago, although their presence was higher in the south of Gran Canaria and Tenerife.

The Canary Islands government has approved the specific regulation of the “genealogical book” of the Camello Canario

This registration of animals is important for preservation and improvement of livestock breeds, especially those in danger of extinction like this Canarian breed.  This refers to identification of the animal with a microchip so as to ensure reliability of kinship, among other issues.

Originally posted in Canarian News
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