Dromedary caravans near Nouakchott, Mauritania
The dromedary, perfectly adapted to the aridity, is an important national livestock in Mauritania and all of the other countries bordering the Sahara. Its domestication several thousand years ago enabled humans to conquer the desert and develop trans-Saharan trade routes. The dromedary eats 25 to 50 pounds of vegetables a day and can survive without water for many months in the winter. In the summer, because of the heat and expended effort, the dromedary can last only a few days without drinking; by comparison, a human would die of dehydration within twenty-four hours. The reserve fat contained in its single hump helps in thermal regulation, allowing the dromedary to withstand the heating of its body without needing to perspire to cool down. The Maurs, the ethnic majority in Mauritania, raise the dromedary for its milk and meat as well as its skin and wool. In 2001 the country's dromedary livestock numbered about 1 million.
Photo copyright: Yann Arthus-Bertrand
From the postcard book THE EARTH FROM THE AIR