The Bactrian or two-humped camel permits the Mongols to transport
heavy loads through the desert and other inhospitable terrain.
The camel is invaluable not only for transporting the folded
and other household furnishings when the Mongols move to new
pastureland, but also to carry goods designed for trade.
A camel could endure the heat of the Gobi desert, could drink
enormous quantities of water and then continue for days without
liquid, required less pasture than other pack animals, and
could extract food from the scruffiest shrubs or blades of
grass all ideal qualities for the daunting desert terrain
of southern Mongolia.
In addition to the camel's importance for transport, the
Mongols valued the animal's wool, drank its milk (which can
also be made into cheese), and ate its meat. No wonder then
that "in the Mongol epoch the camel enjoyed the highest
esteem he was attain in the Chinese lands" [in "The
Camel in China Down to the Mongol Invasion" by Edward
Schafer, Sinologica, 2 (1950), p. 190].
The Camel and the Wheel, by Richard Bulliet (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
"The Camel in China down to the Mongol Dynasty,"
by Edward H. Schafer, in Sinologica 2 (Basel: Verlag
für Recht und Gesellschaft, 1950).