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Camel racing warms up China's remote desert area

  Leading two camels by their halters to a nearby lake in the Tengger Desert of Alxa League, northern China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the 52-year-old Enkebator planned to give them a bath as rewards for their good performances in a race that concluded on Tuesday.

  "My two camels performed excellent," he said. "One took the fourth place in the 15-kilometer race, and the other cooperated with me very well in the archery competition."

  More than 3,000 camels participated in the five-day activities, in which nearly 200 camels with their jockeys competed in the 15-kilometer race, 50-kilometer relay, camel polo games and archery. Some other camels took part in a beauty contest and a gala.

  "Camel racing injected fun and passion into my life," Enkebator said. "We didn't have much work or entertainment in the cold and remote desert area in winter," he added.

  The just concluded contest was part of a bunch of camel-themed Naadam Fairs and ethnic Mongolian sports items for local herders in winter.

  The Tengger Desert lies on the southern edge of the massive Gobi Desert, mainly located in Inner Mongolia's Alxa League.

  Known as one of China's famous "camel towns", Alxa League contains around 120,000 camels, more than 20 percent of the country's total. In the past decade, the league made efforts to protect camels' natural environment, as well as develop nutritious foods from camels' meat, milk and blood.

  The local husbandry industries have been developed and herdsmen's incomes have been raised.

  Camel-themed activities also boosted local tourism.

  "More than 10,000 tourists attended the five-day activities," said He Zhiguo, deputy director of the local tourism bureau. "It was a miracle, because we had received few tourists in winter."

  A lot of tourists took photos with camels, rode camels and tasted camel milk.

  "I cannot wait to ride a camel for the whole day to explore the desert, although the temperature is minus five degrees Celsius," said Zhi Ming, a tourist from Beijing.