Camels can survive and perform without water for 2 weeks but if they find water they love it. When I was shooting the pictures, the temperature was 45.5 Celsius that time but they were absorbing the sharp sunshine while enjoying the water.
They especially love water when it is gushing from a broken water supply pipes or coming from a spring. Yesterday afternoon, I saw these 2 camels enjoying water in the desert.
Based on my desert exploration work and knowledge, all the desert creatures (flora and fauna) are highly resilient to the water scarcity but when they found it, they know how to enjoy, consume and conserve for the needy days.
You can see the Acacia tortilis tree in the driest terrain of the desert, they are happy and flourishing without water for hundreds of days but whenever they get rains, they enjoy and conserve water for the dry period.
The desert ecosystem is rich with unique and super genetic resources both of flora and fauna diversity. They are well design for the harsh and hardy climatic conditions and support the human being in these ecosystem. We just need to admire, respect, sustainably use and conserve for the next generation.
The camels are highly adapted to the harsh and hostile climates of the sphere. The 3 important adaptation strategies are the tools in such climates, i.e. 1. depending for food based on plants which are hardy, dry and bitter/salty (usually avoid by other livestock. 2. Long walking ability to reach to the places where food is available. 3. Body physiology to cope with the burning temperature with the scarcity of water.
Series of Camel ice-cream plants species is continuous process, the outcome of desert walks
Being an ethnoecologist and ethnobotanist, I have started characterization, documentation and reporting about the plants species which are liked as icecream by the camels. You can read about the series as 1, 2, 3 in the links below.
This plant is also liked by camels very much. The plant has rich nutritional value as well as used as a herbal source of medicine. The camel love the plant especially when it is in flowering and seeding stages. I think they like it in these stages because of the aroma and the high protein contents of flowers and seeds respectively. The plants is very strong, powerful to resist the winds of the desert. The multiple branches make it stronger and a source of protection for different insects and reptiles.
I have explored the camel desirability towards this plant during my desert exploration walks. Some ethnoveterinarian suggest this plant in flowering stage as a good source of revitalizing camel body. When the seed is matured, the camel like it even more.
Ethnoherbal Role of the Plant
The tiny flowers of the plants work as a strong laxative agent. The shoots with flowers is a source of flashing the digestive system of the livestock as well as human being. It is also given to camels suffering weakness. and lower desire to food.
The Plant is a Heaven for Bees and other Fauna
The plant has very attractive flowers with yellow color and strong smell, making it very attractive for the wasps, bees and other insects. The multiple branches and dense cover, it is an attraction for the reptiles so they can hide and feel safe.
The Desert Precious Biodiversity is Depleting
Unfortunately, many precious desert plants including this one, are depleting, because of many reasons. This plant really need to be well studies, documented and identify the status and the risk factors. Such plants can ensure sustainable camel and other livestock production in the desert ecosystem.
Read something more about the plant in the link below.
Sometimes, you cannot see on the camels’ body in the daytime. You even do not notice if there are ticks near or on the camels. Here, I share some pictures (the steps and ticks’ pictures) which will help you in understanding.
The best way is to control biologically;
The chickens if not provided other feed, they better eat the ticks.
All partridges, especially Guinea fowl also a good eater of the ticks.
Some wood oil application on the camels’ body
Some trees, like Loghone, is very good
Removing the unwanted waste material especially wood, hay, empty bags will also help in control.
Hi camel lovers,
The people ask me, why the trees in the desert look so beautiful and straightly trimmed from the ground side? They really look very beautiful.
Now see, how the camel makes it possible? This morning, I shot this picture when the camel was on its task making the tree beautiful. The camel eats from such precious plants. The roots of these plants are so deep, making them resilient in the desert and also taking micronutrients from the deep soil.
Look! the camel is trying to reach the twigs to eat, such efforts of the camels making possible this beautiful art.
In the above picture, you can see the camel is trying to reach the twigs (in the large circle on the left). This way camel pruning the trees up to his muzzle height. Ghaf (Prosopis cineraria) is the ice cream plant for camels. They like this tree very much. Plants that are Liked such as Icecream by the Camels. Part 1
See in the circle on the ground with a bush the camel also like but near the Ghaf tree the camel ignore this bushes and moves towards the Ghaf tree. The horizontal arrow indicates the straight level the tree is trimmed.
The deserts trees roots are much deeper, therefore, their products are rich with minerals and other micronutrients, ultimately making camel milk special and super.
The story is hereby released at the eve of the World Camel Day 2018.
The author was invited by the newly established Mongolian Camel Milk Company. The group owns their camels in the desert as their half families live there with the precious livestock in the amazing Gobi.
I started traveling from Dubai airport (2 am, 20th April) and reached Ulaanbaatar on the 21st morning 7 am (Cengiz Khaan International Airport) via Moscow by Aeroflot. The 12 hours stay in Moscow Sheremetyevo airport was an excellent experience of life as I slept in a small cabin available on rent, the first time in my life.
Sanaa and Enkhie (the trip organizers) received me at the airport and took me to the hotel (Khuvsgul Lake). Today, the program was composed of some meetings in the UB city with camel scientists/researcher, businessmen and visiting Changiz Khan Museum.
Travel to South Gobi Desert
Next day, we traveled for more than 10 hours by road and reached South Gobi region. We traveled another 1:30 hour to reach the nomad Ger (house). The nomad family warmly welcomed us and we stayed overnight there. I slept in the Ger first time.
This time period of the year, the nomads do not milk the camels but to let the calf take it and get stronger. The Bactrian camels have beautiful small teats with a strongly attached compact udder.
Seeing Camels and Interviewing the Herder
Next day, I woke up in the morning and went to the camels. They are still roaming near the Ger with their calves. The calves are tied. I observed the calves and the dams and found them very healthy and stronger.
Types of camel
There are 3 types of Bactrian camels in the region, i.e.
Galba Gobiin Ulaan (Reddish colored camel)
Khaniin Khestiin Khuren (Brown colored camel)
Thukhum MTungologiin kKhos Zogdott Khuren (double line neck hair)
The breeding season starts in October and reached the peak in December and slowly decline and cease in April. Usually, one Bull is enough for up to 70 she-camels. The details of the production traits are given in the table below.
Table: The Production Traits of the Bactrian camel in the region
Conception Rate (%)
Avg. Milk (kg)
The table clearly indicates the breeding season, calving percentage, and the milk production. The Camel Milk is lower in quantity, producing from 1-3 liter/day but the milk is thick and full of energy to give special strength to the calf to survive in challenging environment. The average milk production based on my survey is 640 ml/day with lactation yield 233 kg. The lactation here calculated on the annual basis but in actual, the camel produces for up to 8 months.
Camel Milk Products
The nomads use camel milk as fresh directly. The surplus is converted into fermented product (Harmok). The Harmok is used very widely and some products are available in the market in Ulaanbaatar. For further details about Bactrian milk, you can go to the link Detailed Nutritional Composition of Bactrian Camel’s Milk
The surplus Harmok is converted into CM Vodka and the residues are used to make Curt. The curt and Vodka is offered to the guests as a unique product of the Gobi.
The Attachment of Nomads with camel
The nomads love their camel very much. They call it Temeh in the Mongolian language. They use camel for riding, racing, festivals, wool, and also for meat (in rare cases).
We, the camel activists celebrate world camel day since last few years. Different groups of the people celebrate this day it in the different parts of the world in different ways. The idea behind celebrating world camel day is to aware the public and the policymakers regarding the important role of a camel in the food security under climate change scenario. World Camel Day (June 22)
Themes of Different Years
In 2016, the theme was “CAMEL FOR LIFE”
2017, the theme was “Camel Journey from its original habitat to the modern world
2018, the theme is “The camel milk story”
Anyone from any part of the world, who is interested to share his/er story can send it to my email, which will be shared via camel4all.com website with the name of the storyteller.
It is a great opportunity for the camel milk producing companies to share their stories (history and products etc) with the world.
Let’s celebrate this year world camel day as the awareness day for the precious milk of the camel.
The symbolism of this picture is powerful! Not only of our interconnectedness but furthermore I believe, that the camel will lead countries out of the extreme climate change. The camel, in all its resourcefulness and functionality, will feed and nurture the world.
I hereby to start a discussion about the selection of genetic resource for livelihood in the difficult ecosystems of the world. In my view, a true and durable sustainability of food production can be achieved with the tool of the local/native genetic resources embodied with the traditional knowledge.
*Sustainability in true sense means ‘considering the hidden costs like water & carbon footprint along with the other environmental factors.
In the far and wide drylands of the world, local/native genetic resources are playing a pivotal role in sustaining livelihood in the difficult environments since unknown time. To me, the camel is one of the best choices among the best genetic resources.
Originally domesticated for food production, especially milk, the camel was later used for other purposes and the milk became the secondary product.
Good news, that camel is again turning towards its original task, the milk. Camel is no more the animal of the old world, but an animal which may be used to combat the growing desertification and to feed millions of people living in those regions. It has been shown that camels can provide 15-20 liters of milk per day for a lactation period of up to 18 months, making it a very good farm animal.
Based on my personal experience of a camel farm for milk purpose, some camels can produce >12,000 kg milk per lactation (genetic potential) but the majority of population fall in >3,000 kg. The yield is sustainable in the true sense as camel consumes a lesser quantity of water/kg milk production. The same is true for the energy consumption as the camel doesn’t need weather comfort because of its special genes adapted to hostile weathers.
Africa, the Climate Change Hot Spot
Studies conducted in the horn of Africa revealed that the camel produced more milk than the other types of tropical animals compared on the basis of kg/TLU/year. A wide part of the African continent is well familiar with the camel milk, and consider it the fluid of choice in all conditions. Camel Milk and Challenges of Modern Time; The Concept of Natural Health
The Treasure is Uncovered in Another Hot Spot
South Asia, especially dryland (Western India and a major part of Pakistan) are the worst affected by the climate change calamities. The great Thar Desert being the habitat of the world’s best milk camel is an uncovered treasure of the region. Badly neglected and hidden from the consideration of the policymakers. A Beautiful Camel Heritage is Sinking
The time has reached to know and exploit the true potential of native genetic resources like camel and to find the ways to sustain livelihood (in the true sense) of the generations to come. I would appreciate a positive and healthy debate to be initiated regarding the food production in a truly sustainable model under the climate change scenario.
Camel and goats like the salty and spiny species of plants. Such plants are also called ice cream species for camel and goats. In part 1, we discussed the fodder trees which are very much liked by the camels and goats. Here the bushes species will be briefly discussed along with the pictures.The Ice Cream Species of Plants for the Camel and Goat. Part 1
1. Leptadenia pyrotechnica (Marakh as local Arabic name, Bararra in Pashtu)
It is widespread from Africa, the Arabian peninsula to South Asia. The camel likes it very much because of its taste and flavor. When lush, it has higher contents of CP.
One picture tells different and multidimensional stories. Markh (Leptadenia) plant playing a multipurpose role, from halting creeping sand, provides shelter to insects, soil conservation to the camel food. The camels browse this Ice cream species of plant.
The bush is also considered as diuretic both in human and animals. Some camel keepers offer Markh to the male camel when they have urine obstruction problem. We the Pashtun people make chewing gum from this plant.
2. Zygophyllum (Zygophyllum qatarense)
A salt-tolerant plant of the Arabian Peninsula that grows as a rounded, dwarf shrub. In adaptation to retaining water in its saline environment, it has small compact leaves that are rather fleshy and succulent. The camel loves this plant because of 2 main reasons, the i.e. rich source of water and providing abundant salts.
The plant is the real ice cream species for camel and goat. The only thing camel need in the hot dry environment of the region are the water and the salts and the plant is rich in these 2 nutrients.
The Arabs know but the other not, like the cow, camel also has very special dairy traits. I hereby share the traditional knowledge regarding the special dairy traits of camels. These special dairy traits are about the easy and difficult milking; Fashoosh and Asoos/Ghamoos
The Naqa (lactating camel) is called Fashoosh when she has a sizable teat, easily adapted in hand, and having a loose orifice to make the milking easy. The emptying of the udder needs less time and less effort/power. Usually, the camel with this trait has good behavior and feel relaxed while in milking. Some breeds are more Fashoosh and well known among the people, such a Khawara breed. The milk is considered as better in quality.
Asoos or Ghamoos
The Naqa with strong and difficult teat is called Asoos. The orifice is very tough and the teats are very muscular and meaty. The size of the teat does not matter, can be small or big. The milking is difficult and takes more time.
The native livestock keepers are the custodian of the genetic resources and the related traditional knowledge. The communities of the keepers of the gene are the traditional institutions, fortified with the wisdom and knowledge evolved in the millennia. The special traits are very crucial in sustainable use, management, and conservation of the genetic resources like that of camel. Occupy Gene Banks and Ensure Livelihood and Biodiversity
The above discussed 2 dairy traits are qualitative traits and had been found very useful in the selection of camel for milk. The camel herders in Africa and Asia know such qualitative traits very well and used as selection traits. The Arabian camel culture is even richer because of their very close link with this precious creature for millennia. Such knowledge is known as traditional knowledge (TK) and is the precious part of the camel’s kingdom. Therefore, I always suggest using the traditional Arabian terminologies for the different husbandry practices of the dromedary.
Camel and goats like the salty and spiny species of plants. Such plants are also called ice cream species for camel and goats. Here, I share some special pictures of such species which I shot today during my morning walk.
The camel herders take their camels to graze on these plants when they notice salts deficiencies. The Pashtun camel keepers called the phenomenon of salt deficiency as ZALAM.
Acacia Tortilis (Samr, Samur or Salam)
One compound leave has more than 170 leaflets. Highly resistant tree of drylands and the desert. The camel and goats both like it. Such strong and resilient plants products give camels strong feelings of survival. TERRESTRIAL HABITATS
The resilience of the tree in the driest conditions
The bolossom of Acacia Tortilis
The beautiful pods of the reselient tree can be seen guarded by sharp spines
Prosopis cineraria (Ghaf)
One of the important tree of the desert ecosystem. This tree is highly respected and cared about in the UAE. The father of the nation ‘Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan’ had very special adoration and care for this tree. During the development process of the country, the roads were designed to save the tree, especially Ghaf. Prosopis cineraria (Ghaf) tree and beautiful landscape.
In the first picture, one can see the wall is curved to protect the tree. This tree is very strong and gets a very long life. Even the slightly attached broken branches survive for years.
This tree is very special food for the camels. Once in a year, the shoots are allowed to trim and offer to the camels. This trimming time is linked with the breeding season of the camels. The camel bulls like this plant very much and work aphrodisiac for them. This tree is widely found in Alain city and adjoining areas. The Resilient Genetic Resources~A Solution to Many Difficult Question
The government and the people of the UAE prioritize native trees for conservation
The beautiful scene made by the Prosopis tree
These plants give special quality and taste to the camel milk. It enriches the camel milk with the unique minerals which plays the pivotal role in human physiology. The UAE vision is very appreciable, as the country is promoting sustainable management and conservation of plants and animal genetic resources. The policymakers of the other countries must learn from them.
The scientists think that the world will become severely crowded by century 2600 when power consumption could turn the planet into a sizzling fireball Stephen Hawking explains how we could reach Mars in less than an HOUR and Pluto in days. The air will turn red, dry and dusty. In my point of view, the camel will still accompany the human race. Please do not migrate to Mars as our mother earth is the more special. It is my dream, the mother earth can sustain with the help of the unique creatures it has. Among such creatures, the camel is the most prominent and special. My idea and my art ‘the philosophy of sustainability’. It really works, let belief in the native genetic resources to ensure our livelihood on our beautiful mother earth.
A precious camel heritage of Marrecha in Cholistan desert is at risk. This brief study tells, how this beautiful culture is eroding because of the negligence of the policymakers. It is very crucial to involve the native livestock keepers in policies regarding research and development of the region but unfortunately, it is happening the otherwise. ♠♠♠♥♥
Where is the Cholistan Desert?
Having seen many deserts of the world, I’m quite sure that Cholistan desert is one of the most beautiful and living deserts of the world. No doubt, it is a desert but acts as a food bucket (animal origin) for the country since ages. The commune of the Cholistan is called Rohila and the tribe rearing camel is called Marrecha.This cherished desert is situated in the South–West of Punjab province (Pakistan) and is spread over an area of 26,000 square kilometers. It is located between latitudes of 27° to 42° and 29°N and longitude of 57° to 60°E. The length of the desert is about 480 Km and breadth is from 32 to 192 Km.
The Ecosystems and the Camel Adaptation
The Pakistani camel breeds are highly diversified at inter and intra breed basis Rapid change of strategy is necessary for development of dromedary camel pastoralism in the Cholistan desert of Pakistan and found in different ecological zones of the country. Each breed/type has its own uniqueness and usefulness based on the breeding goals of the relevant breeding community. Cholistani pastoralists (Rohila or Marreche) predominantly keep the highly adapted desert camel Marrecha (gets its name from Marrecha tribe). The Marrecha breeders have their own native wisdom and knowledge of conservation and management of animal genetic resources.
The Marrecha Camel
The Marrecha breeders have their own native wisdom and knowledge of conservation and management of animal genetic resources. The Marrecha commune living in the deep desert works as an institution, treasured with precious knowledge of the ecosystems, available natural resources, especially vegetation, biological and natural health, animal breeding and survival and resilience in climate change scenario.
The Marreche Institutions and the Camel Genetic Resources
The Marreche breeders are color sensitive as in the other parts of the world. They only consider a camel Marrecha if it has coat color from sandy, blackish brown to light brown. CAMEL REARING IN CHOLISTAN DESERT OF PAKISTAN. The pastoralists have a very clear stance on the breeds and the special traits which they use as their basic breeding goals.
Marrecha herders’ top priority (breeding goal) is to produce pack camels for transportation of goods and families in the desert.They consider the hardiness, intelligence, and obedience as important but special traits for their camels. Along with the special traits, they use phenotypic traits as the markers of the genetic potential and adaptation to the deserted ecosystem. These animals are lightly built, medium sized with a medium head which is carried on a lean long beautifully curved neck Dancing Marrecha Camel of Cholistan Pakistan. Some of the phenotypic traits are listed below.
The flat and wide foot pad (walking ability in desert)
The mouth is small with tight lips
prominent round bright eyes, and narrow muzzle
Long eyelashes and long hair on the ears and neck
lean long beautifully curved neck covered with long hair
small ear (Rabbit like) with dense air like brush
The legs are thinner but strong, fine and well shaped
the cylindrical body
Medium head with a protruded nose
The Output Potential and the Worth of the Marrecha Camel
As a riding/packed Animal: Marrecha camels are fine, fast and gracious looking, so they are called the riding camels. Marrecha can travel from 100 to 125 Km/ day at a high speed of 20-25 Km per hour. As a pack animal, it can transport 300 to 400 kg weight and can travel up to 50 km/day.
As a Milk Animal: Milk production is the secondary job of the Marrecha camel. Because of its highly adapted nature, it produces milk in harsh conditions with high ambient temperatures and scarcity of feed and water. These characteristics of the Marrecha camel enable camel herders to live and stay deep in the desert and depend on the camel milk for food. The Marrecha pastoralists have an average herd size of 37 camels, majority female (20-25% lactating camels) Marrecha camel of Cholistan Desert. A good Marrecha camel can produce up to 10 milk/day and produces up to 250 days in the ordinary grazing management in the desert. A lactation yield of 1500 kg is expected from an average lactating camel in the desert of Cholistan.
The Camel Heritage is sinking here…
The Marrecha pastoralists are facing the burden of constraints with a complex nature. Here the problems are presented in the bullets below.
Contrast to other deserts, the Cholistan is squeezing in size and the grazing lands are shrinking
The land right/grazing rights are not honored and the land grabbing is mounting with each moment of the time
The influentials from other regions and provinces allow the grazing lands of the pastoralists and shoot the camels entering in the allotted lands
Unfortunately, Cholistan desert is exactly situated along the world’s complex border between Pakistan and India
The movement restriction among the pastoralists on both sides of the border is resulting in the deterioration of the Marrecha breed because of the stipulation of the crossbreeding with other desert types of camels (Bikaneri and Jaisalmeri).
The region is one of the hot spots of the climate change which embracing the pastoralists with the complex challenges, especially new and fatal diseases.
The policy makers avoid engaging the pastoralists in policies, resulting in the Cholistan into the graveyard of the failed project.
Thinking critically and philosophically, the camel has two sides of the actuality, i.e. the real one and the exterior one. Camel is not like other animals but unique, having dualistic sides and special value if asses with a holistic approach. Following are the few examples.
1. Though a slow and dull animal but ensures walking in tough terrains (ship of the desert)
2. Longer calving intervals but produces the unique calves, compatible to the extreme weathers (lesser number of calves in life time period)
3. Apparently producing lesser quantity of milk but the potential is up to 45 liter per day (apparently low producer in milk)
4. Considered thinner milk but energized with the magical values, considered as superfood (low total solids)
5. Can eat anything but prefer the best quality vegetation if available
6. Though a farm animal but having the strength and resistance power of a wild creatures (close to wild ancestors)
7. A model animal, alone having the capabilities of many farm and wild animals (all in one animal)