This article is not meant to be a joke. On the opposite, it finds its roots in one of the most underrated chapters of America’s history.
Historia Magistra vitae (history is life teacher) is one of the greatest mottos ever.
Sure enough, when it comes to learning from history, we can gain some good lessons which can come in handy during a survival scenario.
In my opinion, preppers should be autodidactic when it comes to learning from the past to know how to face a possible SHTF event. Better knowledge means not only better skills but also better strategies. So by that logic alone, sometimes, even some weird stuff can trigger good ideas linked to our survival.
This article is intended to provide some good tips on how to bug out in barren areas, resorting to… yes, camels.
Useful information you may not know about camels
“A single camel can carry around 300 kilograms. Using camels for hauling during migration is becoming a rarity in Mongolia, where mechanized transport is gradually replacing traditional means.”
– Tim Cope
Camels belong to the genus Camelus (Linnaeus, 1758).
They include three existing species.
- Bactrian Camel (Camelus Bactrianus), which is domesticated and lives in Central Asia;
- Arabian Camel (also called Dromedary) (Camelus Dromedarius), domesticated and which lives in the Sahara Desert, in the Middle East, Afghanistan and which has been introduced in Australia;
- Wild Bactrian Camel (Camelus Ferus) lives in secluded areas inside Mongolia and Northwest China.
Camels have been used for more than four thousand years. In areas like Tunisia, Jordan, the Sahara Desert, and Central Asia, they were synonyms of survival for the local population and still are to this day.
According to some historical records, around 500 and 100 BC, Bactrian camels effectively came into military use once domesticated. Soldiers put saddles on them as they started to be employed like horses.
Tougher than horses, camels:
- can live for 40 up to 50 years
- can feed themselves with thorny plants thanks to their thick lips
- can shut their nostrils completely down when sandstorms occur
- can have their humps full of 80 pounds of fat. This means they are able to live for months from those fat reserves.
- can stay on terribly hot sands thanks to the thick skin they have on their knees and chest
- can carry up to 900 pounds in a hypothetical 25 miles long trail per day
- can drink 40 gallons of water (when they have access to it)
The above-mentioned facts make camels some of the most resistant and solid animals on earth. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that camels have been successfully employed for domestic issues and military tasks, as we will soon see.
U.S. Camels Corps
“In the mid-19th century, the US government imported camels for military use. The first shipment of thirty-four arrived in May of 1856, with a second load of forty-one arriving in February of 1857. These camels came from the modern countries of Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, and Turkey. Many were given as gifts from the Ottoman Pasha in Cairo. Roughly five dozen were Arabian camels, the balance being Bactrian or hybrid crosses. In October 1858, a private shipment of camels arrived in Galveston, Texas. Included in the manifest of the Thomas Watson were around forty camels owned by a Mrs. M.J. Watson. The ship’s owner, J.A. Machado, was suspected of carrying slaves in the ship, and the vessel was denied entry. Watson’s camels, however, were off-loaded. Future Texas governor Francis R. Lubbock, a local rancher at the time, agreed to take the camels, and he kept them on his ranch on Sims Bayou, near Houston, Texas, for a year’s time, but Lubbock didn’t record the camels’ final disposition.” ( “The status of the camel in the United States of America” – Doug Baum [Texas Camel Corps] )
Jefferson Davis used to be Secretary of War for the United States government before becoming President of the Confederacy.
The most pressing and biggest issue was represented by the scarcity of water and by the presence of unfriendly native American tribes as well.
Jefferson Davis, resorting to knowledge and creativity, started to take into consideration the idea of using camels.
Davis thought he had a possible solution to the problem; he sent the U.S. Navy to Tunisia to bring 33 camels for an experiment in Texas. On June 6, 1856, Major Henry C. Wayne ordered the beginning of the trial. The camels eventually settled at a site between San Antonio and Kerrville called Camp Verde.
In 1855, Davis assigned Major Wayne to procure some camels from Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Malta. They initially acquired 33 animals, and with a second mission, they increased the number, counting 70 animals. On June 6th, 1856, he officially began the “Texas Camel Drive” from Indianola to San Antonio.
Between 1856 and 1866, the United States Army introduced the “United States Camel Corps.” They established the headquarter in Camp Verde, Texas, under the command of Major Henry C.Wayne.
The purpose of the camels was to use them in military operations across desert areas, as the animals proved to be fit for long travels in wastelands.
The Camp Verde experiment initially seemed to be pretty much successful. The camels were able to carry a huge amount of items, and they didn’t need as much water as horses did.
When the Civil War started, the experiment was abruptly abandoned.
The Indians stole some camels, others escaped, and a few of them were sent and released in California or sold to the circus.
A large number of camel sightings have been recorded throughout the years between New Mexico and Texas.
Why bugging out with camels
“Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.”
– Denis Waitley
I didn’t pick this quote by chance.
Camels could really become the ideal animal for preppers if they have to face a bug-out situation and they need to cross wastelands, where the probability of carrying all your equipment by yourself is less than zero. Physical and mental fatigue are real enemies in survival situations. Traveling lighter and, at the same time, relying on a domesticated but strong animal is an ideal situation.
Camels not only can provide valuable help, replacing effectively any vehicle (which needs fuel) or horses (which definitely needs water), but they can also be a source of nutrition as well as a remarkable layer of defense when the temperatures drop.
Let’s see look at the facts:
It is considered a staple food as well as a meal in itself. Some Nomad tribes who live and constantly move across the desert can rely on it for days.
You can process camel milk into butter, yogurt, cheese, and even ice cream.
(“Deep in the Dutch countryside, farmer Frank Smits runs Europe’s only commercial camel farm. The milk from these temperamental creatures is said to have unique health benefits, and recently Frank has been working with local chef Piet Hein Megens, who has invented a recipe for camel ice cream.” BBC, 2011).
Camel milk has low cholesterol, and in some marketplaces, it can hit very high prices.
In case of bugging out, having fresh camel milk could be considered a plus value.
A standard dromedary carcass can weigh around 660 – 800 lb (a male), 1,433 lb a Bactrian. Female dromedary carcasses weigh less than the male. It is around 500 and 770 lb.
In some areas of the world, the camel hump is considered a real delicacy. But, generally speaking, ribs, loins, and brisket are very good and nutritious.
Additionally, by combining camel milk and meat, you will have a diet extremely rich in protein, glycogen, and vitamins too.
Having plenty of this in an SHTF scenario will guarantee the survival of you and your relatives.
Bactrian camels have outer guard hairs. The inner ones are soft. We know that Mongolian nomad tribes, along with other Desert tribes, used camel hair for a very long time.
They employed them in a wide range of ways:
- to produce tents
- to create items
- to create and sew clothes
- to waterproof coats
Even nowadays, an elaborated mixture between camel hair and wool has been used to produce sweaters and jumpers. It is not only soft, but it can ensure you stay dry and warm.
However, it is far from being an easy animal to purchase. Even so, you can still store this information in the corner of your mind. Better to know and be prepared, right?
Kyt Lyn Walken has written this article for Prepper’s Will.