“Even the camels are tools for making money. Please care and love them. They are also living things,” one commented on mainland social media.

The camel riding service at Mingsha Mountain costs US$14 per person for 1 hour. Photo: Douyin

The camel riding service at Mingsha Mountain costs US$14 per person for 1 hour. Photo: Douyin

“The weather is very hot, and camels will probably get heatstroke. Please be kind to those animal friends,” another person said.

Apart from laws protecting wild animals, China has no legislation in place to safeguard the rights of other animals like domestic pets, farm animals, those in zoos or working at tour sites.

An anonymous official from the tour site said camel rides were briefly on hold for a day from July 18 to allow cleaning of the camels’ route up the mountain.

“There are many camel faeces left on the road. Since it is extremely hot at the moment, the road stinks. So we need to clean up the faeces,” the official told The Paper.

The official admitted that this also allowed the camels to rest as some were weak from carrying too many tourists.

“We’ve received an extremely high number of tourists this summer. Around 20,000 to 30,000 tourists visited the site, and almost every one of them hoped to ride a camel, but there are only 1,000 camels available here,” the official said.

On July 21, Dunhuang Cultural and Tourism Bureau denied the claims that some camels had died, saying no animals had died from exhaustion and that an investigation into the video footage had not revealed any abuse.

“According to our investigation, the camels whined not because they were tired or abused, but because they did not feel comfortable due to the nose string that workers used to lead the camels,” the bureau’s statement said.

It added that to avoid times of the day when temperatures are too high, the camels work from 7am to 10am and from 5pm to 9pm.

The footage of the camels lying on the sand was described as distressing by many who saw it and triggered a flurry of alarmed comments online. Photo: Douyin