Mongolia: The Camel Training Begins

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October 5th 2017
Published: October 9th 2017
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Camel training expedition is not exactly the answer people expect to hear when they ask why are you going to Mongolia or why are you in Mongolia. I know. It is not an answer I ever expected to give. But here we are and that is what we are doing.

I am here with a group of cameleers on an expedition organized by Australian Camels with the purpose of preparing some camels for a 3 year expedition. Just to be clear, the camels are taking a 3 year expedition, not me. I am here to help get the camels ready.

When I left home, I knew I could be in over my head, but I also knew it would be worth it.

It all became real on the first day when our vans pulled into Camp Camp and our breath was taken away. The scene was the Mongolia I had dreamed of experiencing. The sweeping plains dotted with camps of gers and livestock, the wide openness and the camels. Of course, the camels.

The team of 10 Bactrian camels was stationed near the gers awaiting our arrival, probably as filled with anticipation as us humans.

The cameleers are a diverse group made up camel lovers from Australia, Canada, England, America and Germany with varying degrees of experience. The trainers are Aussies and so are many of the trainers. Our mission is to make sure these camels are trained to be part of an expedition and can be handled by the human expedition team members.

We jumped right into things as soon as we arrived. Our first task was to choose a camel and develop a bond with the camel. This is the moment when you find out your tolerance for patience. The focus is on getting to know each other and simply being together. This is a phase I quite enjoy. Making friends with camels is never a chore for me.

For no apparent reason, I was paired with a camel named Black. He was the one camel that had created concern for the humans on the expedition team. Black had developed a reputation for being the problem child of the team. He is grumpy, frothy, resistant and sensitive.

Black is the camel in the herd that is easy to spot because he constantly has a mouth covered in white foam. But when you look at him more closely, Black is a camel with deep bown eyes and a constant sense of what is going on around him.

The morning was spent standing with our camel, allowing the camel to inspect us and investigate us. Black cautiously checked me out, decorated me with bits of slobber and eventually leaned into us being paired.

The rule was no touching or scratching the camels, but sometimes rules are just too hard to follow. Surprisingly, Black allowed for some scratching and seemed to let his guard down.

As the day progressed, he kept his guard down enough to allow for learning and trusting.

Before the day was over, Black had learned his commands for "sitting" and "getting up" and the cameleers had learned the Mongolian verbal commands for these situations. Black was sitting and getting up without issue despite the initial struggles and the uncertainty he presented.

After a day of bonding and working with Black, he has proven he is really no problem at all.

Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18


9th October 2017

Perfect Pair
Sounds like you and Black are going to be a great team! Love the photos! Camels and puppies? Can it get better? Sure. And bet it does, and when it does I am so grateful that you will write about it! Keep having fun and give Black a scratch for me!
9th October 2017

How ideal that you were given the 'problem child'. So happy for you!
9th October 2017

Can't wait
Anxious to hear about the training and envying the adventure!

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