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Explorers to Study Wild Camels in World's Largest Desert

Two Chinese explorers will join an expedition walking across the Sahara Desert to promote awareness about endangered camels.

Yuan Guoying, a researcher with the Environmental Protection Institute of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and his son Yuan Lei, who works for the Xinjiang Environmental Monitoring Center, will set off to cross the desert from south to north in October, Tuesday's China Daily reported.

The 2,400-kilometer-long expedition on the former camel route will start from Nigeria and go through Niger to the final destination of Tripoli, the capital of Libya. The journey could take four months.

North Africa was once home to many one-humped camels centuries ago, but wild ones become extinct five or six centuries ago. Wild camels now only live in China and Mongolia. There are less than 900 left in the world and they are more endangered than the giant panda, said Yuan.

Mainly sponsored by the National Geographic magazine and the United Kingdom Royal Geographic Society, the expedition will collect first-hand materials from the world's biggest desert and try to find out why deserts expand.

The expedition will be led by John Hare, the founder of the Wild Camel Protection Foundation. A National Geographic magazine photographer and a Kenya-based expert on camels will also go on the trip, according to China Daily.

Yuan Guoying has carried out a lot of research in the Taklimakan Desert, the second largest desert in the world after the Sahara. The father and son intend to make a comparison between the two deserts in an effort to find out why wild camels went extinct in Africa.

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