The King of the Great Mongol Gobi

The Mongol Messenger
2023-12-25 10:02:14

Ulaanbaatar, December 25, 2023 /MONTSAME/. The Mongolian Camel Festival is a spectacular winter event that attracts numerous tourists to Uvurkhangai aimag, Mongolia.


This year, the "Camel Festival - 2023" was organized in Arvaikheer soum of the Uvurkhangai aimag on December 1, 2023, with an aim to instill pride among Mongolians in the camel, the jewel of Mongolian nomadic heritage, enhance the benefits derived from camels, foster awareness among the younger Mongolian generation about their unique heritage, and train the next generation of true camel herders.


After a hiatus of two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Camel Festival made a triumphant return, drawing participation from approximately 200 camel herders from Uvurkhangai, Umnogobi, Dundgobi, Bayankhongor and Gobi-Altai aimags, each bringing their own marvelous friend.  


At the heart of the Mongol Gobi, the "Camel Festival - 2023" featured various camel-centric games and competitions such as camel races for castrated camels, three- to five-year-old male camels, and two-year-old camels, a 4x500 meter short-distance race, a knuckle-bone grabbing competition from humps of the camel, and selection of the "Best Couple on the Camel" and "Best Male and Female Camels."




The Camel Festival is incomplete without an exciting race. In recent years, camel racing has experienced significant growth in Mongolia. In 2016, Mongolia became one of the founding countries of the Asian Camel Racing Association and the International Camel Racing Association, achieving a Guinness record by organizing a race with 1,108 camels in Umnugobi aimag. It is widely believed that camels can reach speeds up to 65 km/h.


During the "Camel Festival-2023" National Championships, three-year-old camels participated in competitive races, with the top performers being awarded prizes. 




Mongolian camels are renowned for their muscular build, long fins, deep and wide chests, elevated and broad shoulders, substantial rib thickness, straight legs, wide soles, and ample hooves. The camels are also known for their breeds, such as Galb Gobi Red, Khan Khatsi Brown, and Tukhum Tungalag Brown.


As part of the Camel Festival tradition, it is customary to not only select the most beautiful couple, but also select the finest female and male camels.




Mongolians hold camels in high esteem, considering them "heavenly animals." Grabbing the knuckle-bones from the hump of a camel is not simple task. According to belief, only individuals with divine power, heavenly men who have mastered the art of riding and training camels, are deemed fit to engage in this extraordinary activity. At the Camel Festival, camel herders heroically competed in the formidable game of grabbing the ankles from the hump of a camel, testing their dexterity and agility.




Mongolia, the birthplace of the two-humped camel, has become a global focal point for researchers studying this remarkable species. As a result, preserving and breeding the two-humped camel gene pool has become a crucial responsibility for Mongolia.


"It is a state policy to nurture and preserve traditional customs and heritage while promoting Mongolian camels to boost tourism in Mongolia through the annual and nationwide "Camel Festival." Officials emphasized that they aim to expand the scope of the "Camel Festival," encompassing multiple aimags, and pay special attention to the camel herders."


As of 2022, Mongolia has a camel population of more than 470,000, with 29,000 of these humble animals grazing in the vast plains of Uvurhangai aimag. Notably, among these, 11,000 female camels are for breeding.




The majority of camel herders of Uvurkhangai aimag live in Mongol Khooloi. This area boasts abundant camel-friendly sustenance, including saxaul, straw, and bushy plants. Moreover, rivers and streams crisscross the land during summer, while winter blankets it with snow, making it the primary location for herders to navigate throughout all four seasons.


Since 2015, the Department of Food and Agriculture of Uvurkhangai aimag has been engaged in inspecting and classifying camels in the Mongol Khooloi. Camels in this area are remarkable for their exceptional physical development, high fertility rate, richness in meat, milk, and wool, and ability to adapt to severe weather. Based on these factors, the Research Institute of Animal Husbandry of Mongolia has been consistently working to analyze the genetic structure of the camels in Mongol Khooloi, aiming to create a new breed.

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