A pack animal, also known as a sumpter animal or beast of burden, is an individual or type of working animal
used by human
s as means of transport
ing materials by attaching them so their weight bears on the animal
's back, in contrast to draft animals
which pull loads but do not carry them.
Traditional pack animals are diverse including camel
, water buffalo
es, and llama
s as well as the more familiar pack animals like dog
s, and mule
The term ''pack animal'' is traditionally used in contrast to ''draft animal'', which is a working animal
that typically pulls a load behind itself (such as a plow
, a cart, a sled
or a heavy log) rather than carrying cargo directly on its back. For instance, sled dog
s pull loads but do not normally carry them, while working elephants have been used for centuries to haul logs out of forests.
The term ''pack animal'' can also refer to animals which naturally live and hunt in packs in the wild, such as wolves, hyenas, dogs etc.
Traditional pack animals include ungulates
such as camel
s, the domestic yak
, water buffalo
es and llama
, and domesticated members of the horse family
s, and mule
can be used to carry small loads.
Pack animals by region
and sled dog
* Central Africa
and Southern Africa
** Central Asia
- Bactrian camel
and Southeast Asia
- Water buffalo
s, Asian elephant
* North America
* North Africa
and Middle East
* South America
File:Eylcamel.jpg|A nomad's pack camel in Eyl, Somalia
File:Reindeer and pack, with Lapp driver.jpg|Pack reindeer with Sami driver from ''The land of the midnight sun'', c. 1881
File:Fleischextrakt 0002773 m.jpg|1900 advertisement showing pack yaks in Tibet
File:Lloyd the Llama.jpg|Pack llama, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
File:COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Bimanees met lastkarbouwen Res. Timor Soembawa TMnr 10013888.jpg|Pack water buffalo, Sumbawa, Indonesia, early 20th century
File:Pack donkeys, Bucks Mills, Devon.jpg|Pack donkeys, Devon, England, c. 1906
Hauling of goods in wagons with horses and oxen gradually displaced the use of packhorses, which had been important until the Middle Ages
, by the sixteenth century.
Pack animals may be fitted with pack saddle
s and may also carry saddlebag
While traditional usage of pack animals by nomadic tribespeople is declining, a new market is growing in the tourist expeditions industry in regions such as the High Atlas
mountains of Morocco, allowing visitors the comfort of backpacking with animals
[ The use of pack animals "is considered a valid means of viewing and experiencing" some National Parks in America, subject to guidelines and closed areas.
In the 21st century, special forces have received guidance on the use of horses, mules, llamas, camels, dogs, and elephants as pack animals.
Load carrying capacity
The maximum load for a camel is roughly 300 kg.
Yaks are loaded differently according to region. In Sichuan, is carried for 30 km in 6 hours. In Qinghai, at 4100 m altitude, packs of up to are routinely carried, while up to is carried by the heaviest steers for short periods.
Llamas can carry roughly a quarter of their body weight, so an adult male of can carry some .
Loads for equids are disputed. The US Army specifies a maximum of 20 percent of body weight for mules walking up to 20 miles a day in mountains, giving a load of up to about . However an 1867 text mentioned a load of up to . In India, the prevention of cruelty rules (1965) limit mules to and ponies to .
Reindeer can carry up to 40 kg for a prolonged period in mountains.
* Pack station
Documentary produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting