A Beautiful Camel Heritage is Sinking

The centuries old rich camel heritage of Cholistan with the Marrecha tribe of camels is under threat.

IMG_0537A 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.

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The map of the Cholistan desert

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.

 

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The caravan of Marrecha camels passing by the Killa Dirawar

 

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.DSC04312.JPG

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.DSC04311.JPG

  1. The flat and wide foot pad (walking ability in desert)
  2. The mouth is small with tight lips
  3. prominent round bright eyes, and narrow muzzle
  4. Long eyelashes and long hair on the ears and neck
  5. lean long beautifully curved neck covered with long hair
  6. small ear (Rabbit like) with dense air like brush
  7. The legs are thinner but strong, fine and well shaped
  8. the cylindrical body
  9. Medium head with a protruded nose
Marrecha camel

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.
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  • 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. 

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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. 

 

The camel Worth Different in Reality VS the Appearance

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.

The decorated Marrecha camel of Cholistan desert of Pakistan

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)

For further reading, please go to the link below:

https://camel4milk.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/camel-a-one-in-all-creature/

The Climate Change Forced African Pastoralists to Replace Cow with the Camel

Maalem is a camel pastoralist in Kenya and she is thankful for camel as this precious animal ensures livelihood in the climatic calamities of the region.maalem

Bone-dry plains roasted by a relentless equatorial sun. At first glance, there’s little to be found in the fields near Isiolo, a provincial town about five hours’ drive north of the capital, Nairobi. But Mariam Maalim’s camels still manage to find something to eat. They nibble at arid bushes, while the wooden bells around their necks tinkle softly.Kenyans turn to camels to cope with climate change

Camels survive two weeks without water

“My husband and I had a hundred cattle until 2005. But as the climate became drier in this region, the cows stopped producing milk, and twenty to thirty of our cows even died every year,” says 45-year-old Maalim, dressed in a blue hijab. “This made us decide to shift to camels as they survive without water for over two ­weeks. They continue to give milk, and although they become weak and skinny, they won’t die.”

For details please go to the link below;

http://www.dw.com/en/kenyans-turn-to-camels-to-cope-with-climate-change/a-38300987

 

 

Australian Organization and the Government are Looking to find Ways for Camel Genetic Resources to GCC Region

A one day workshop was organized by Ngaanyatjarra Camel CompanyIndigenous camel company gets over the hump, Camel Treck Australia, and Agricultural Consulting Company Queensland Australia to find ways for Australian camel export to the GCC Region Gulf Cooperation Council. The details of the program are attached Workshop Program Rafat (1).download (1)

The theme and the venue of the workshop are in the ensuing lines. Australian Camel Export Development in the Gulf States Intercontinental Festival City Dubai, Dubai Festival City January 30, 2017.Karen

The presence of so many participants from different countries of the region gave me immense pleasure as the camel is getting its due importance at different levels. The participants from Oman, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia participated in the workshop. download (2)

There was a wide and deep discussion on the role of camel genetic resources in the food security under changing climate change scenario. The author presented a talk on the potential role of a camel in milk production. The milk production potential was presented with the help of the daily and lactation yield curves and the challenges of the camel dairying were chalked out in the meanwhile. The author was very optimistic and viewed that the camel introduced in the Australian continent was a reason to ensure food security in this part of the world.DSC_7014.JPG

This was a unique opportunity to strengthen communication between 2 regions with the reference of camels. The universities, research institutions, camel dairy farms like camelait Camelait! Al Ain Camel Dairy Products and many camel farmers were connected at the occasion of this precious one day workshop. image

For me, it was a great pleasure seeing the Australian government and the organizations are now looking to find ways for the utilization of Australian camels instead of mass killings. I was one of the strongest voice at the global level to halt this mass killing of precious camels. Vaarzon-Morel-Figure 4._opt.png

The main suggestion of the workshop was to find ways for sustainable utilization of the Australian camel genetic resource in food security under the climate change scenario.

 

 

 

 

Heartiest congratulation and Happy New Year 2017

I hereby send you my heartiest congratulation on the occasion of the onset of 2017. I wish you a very prosperous new year for you and your beloved ones.
This year the incredible camel progressed further in many ways; i.e.
  • Many scientific articles published in well-reputed journals.
  • Camel milk made more space for the food table at global level
  • The healing aspects of camel milk are appreciated from many corners
  • Some regional camel conferences
  • Some more PhDs created on camels’ issues.
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I wish you good luck and hope we shall keep our courage intact and our spirit up.

Yawn May Reveal How Smart You Are.

The longest yawn periods tell the intensity of the intelligence. The yawning duration in human is 6 seconds followed by camel with the 5 minutes duration. This statement means that this precious animal (the camel) is next to human in intelligence.  Your yawn may reveal how smart you are: Mammals with bigger and more complex brains gape for longer Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3821906/Your-yawn-reveal-smart-Mammals-bigger-complex-brains-gape-longer.html#ixzz4NL8bIFod Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook. Some other animals like rats, African elephant, horses, etc also have a longer duration of a yawn after humans. There is need of a study to compare the yawn duration among these species of animals to reveal the smartest animal. yawning-camel

According to the camel keepers, the camel is the most intelligent animal. I have visited and traveled with camel herders in different parts of the world. Assessing the potential of the indigenous livestock breeds of Baluchistan. I have been asking this question very often, the answer was always yes ‘they are very intelligent’. They learn very quickly. They understand commands of the owner. camelyawning_knuttz

I hope someone will work on this side of camel too, to understand the exact potential and intelligence of camel.

The Best Option for Sustainable Food Production in Challenging Environment ~is the Promising Camel

Happy Camel’s Day (WCD)

Among the camel’s world, the subcontinent is the region where the day starts first. It is 22nd June in the subcontinent, so I can safely say Happy Camel’s Day. At the occasion of WCD, I started the series of articles based on the documents/material sent from different corners of the world. As my own share, I want to express my views on the role of the camel as a farm animal in NENA region.

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Not the ship but the gift of the desert

Near East and North Africa (NENA) is one of the driest and challenging landscapes on the face of the earth. The major percentage of the global deserted lands fall in this region, making it a hostile ecosystem for many other livestock species. Nature blessed the region with the highly adapted and unique livestock species “the Camel”, well said as Ataullah in Arabic.

As mentioned in the holy book Quran “do they do not look at camel; how strange it is created?” the camel is the animal of unique characteristics’ making it the most valuable creature of the drylands. The people living in this region, especially the camel herders and pastoralists depend on the camels for food, accessibility, and other livelihoods. Camel produces milk in very high ambient temperatures and other climatic challenges, in the same environment, other livestock species are hard to survive. Camel is not in competition with any other livestock as camel browse on very woody and bushy vegetation.

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The desert’s friend…

In the climate change scenario and fragile security (in some parts of Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Syria) camel is the animal of choice to provide precious food items as milk (primary product) and meat to ensure the survival of the people. Camel farming needs very low input making it a sustainable profession.

Based on my experience and scientific findings, I can say that camel is the most sustainable farm animal in the region. The cow model (cow dairies) is not sustainable in such a hostile ecosystem and the milk produced is very expensive if calculated in the ecosystem model as the cow needs many times more water to produce one liter of milk. The camel tolerates very high ambient temperatures, on a contrary, the cow needs a cooling system (using fossil oil) to produce milk in the same situation.

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Camel ensures accessibility in the remote areas

The quality of camel milk is very appreciating than that of cow milk. Free of allergen protein, intolerant lactose and low in the saturated long chain, fats making the camel milk the best choice for health sensitive people. The region needs to ensure joint efforts for making policies regarding the food and agriculture and keep the camel on top priority as an animal of food security in climate change scenario.

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They are not in competition with other livestock species

The organization “Camels4Life” which is an advocacy group supporting camel’s cause,  is always willing to support both governments and NGOs for finding ways to use a camel as a sustainable farm animal contrast to its old vision of beast of the burden.

For more details, please go to the link below.

https://camel4milk.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/camel-a-one-in-all-creature/

http://www.thenational.ae/uae/health/al-ain-doctor-sees-potential-in-camels-beyond-their-milk