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Wot makes the rear-guard swear so 'ard when night is drorin' in,
An' every native follower is shiverin' for 'is skin?
It ain't the chanst o' being rushed by Paythans from the 'ills,
It's the commissariat camel puttin' on 'is bloomin' frills!
O the oont, O the oont, O the hairy scary oont!
A-trippin' over tent-ropes when we've got the night alarm!
We socks 'im with a stretcher-pole an' 'eads 'im off in front,
An' when we've saved 'is bloomin' life 'e chaws our bloomin' arm.

The 'orse 'e knows above a bit, the bullock's but a fool,
The elephant's a gentleman, the battery-mule's a mule;
But the commissariat cam-u-el, when all is said an' done,
'E's a devil an' a ostrich an' a orphan-child in one.
O the oont, O the oont, O the Gawd-forsaken oont!
The lumpy-'umpy 'ummin'-bird a-singin' where 'e lies,
'E's blocked the whole division from the rear-guard to the front,
An' when we get him up again — the beggar goes an' dies!

(from) Oonts by Rudyard Kipling

Basic Information

Large, social, herbivorous, placental mammal native to desert regions in the Old World, frequently domesticated by humans as a herd animal, best of burden and mount. Sometimes referred to as 'Ships of the desert'.
Significant environmental adaptions include an extremely efficient water metabolism and one or more humps on the back to store fat allowing the camel to go for many days without eating or drinking - very unusual in a herbivore.

Comes in two main varieties:

Dromedary: Single humped, usually pale brown in colour and native to North Africa. Good in heat and sand.
Bactrian: Two humped, usually dark brown or black, native to Central Asia. Good in cold deserts.

Camels have since been introduced to a variety of places beyond their native range including the Americas and Australia. The Americas also have their own native camelids (species closely related to camels) such as Alpaca and Vicuna which were domesticated by the pre-Columbian civilisations.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • If the PCs are going to cross a desert, they may be forced to accquire camels … for people used to horses this can be a great trial as the two kinds of animal have virtually nothing in common and typically loathe each other.
  • It is, technically, possible to mount a machine gun on a camel's hump, subject to having the right kind of saddle.
  • Rumoured to have designs upon the sphinx.
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