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.
Don’t they look how strange the camel is created? It questions in Quraan. Really strange and also special. I think very deeply and so often about the camel. Today, when I shot the below picture, I just noticed that the camel shade is even more beautiful than the camel itself. You please just see once from my eyes.
Anyone can share the beautiful pictures of the camelS with me.
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).
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.
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)
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.
I hope someone will work on this side of camel too, to understand the exact potential and intelligence of camel.
The Cholistan desert is part of the ancient Hakra River civilization, one of the oldest of the Aryan settlers in the Indian subcontinent. It is one of the largest deserts in Pakistan, inhabited by around 1.2 million Rohi pastoral people practicing mobile livestock husbandry. This production system is extremely important for food security and conservation of livestock and landscape.
The camel is one of the important animal genetic resources and about 80,000 are found in the desert. The main tribe with camel herds is Marrecha. The desert pastoralists also raise goats, sheep and cattle breeds. The major camel breed is Marrecha following by Brela. The precious camel genetic resources are under threat due to commercial agricultural practices, land grabbing and faulty development projects.
The policies come from the top and pastoral peoples do not participate in formulating strategies for development. Hence the projects are not supported by local livestock keepers and always result in failure. There is an urgent need to save this pastoral livestock system, especially the camel breeds. It is suggested that niche marketing, value addition, ecotourism and participation of pastoral people in development policies may help achieve this goal. Organization of the livestock keepers in the region can be an efficient tool to halt land grabbing.
The International Camel Conference (ICC) under the patronage of Camel Association of Pakistan and the Islamia University of Bahawalpur was organized in Baghdad campus of Islamia University (19-21 Dec 2013). Bahawalpur being the city of the great Thar desert and home of camel culture was the right choice for this event. Many scientists, research scholars, camel herders and students from different universities and institutions participated in this important event on the camel. Many animal scientists, students and camel herders from Balochistan province also participated.
FAO Balochistan chapter sponsored a group of camel herders and L&DD officials to participate in the conference. The conference was very versatile of its nature, not only covered the camel science but provided a good opportunity to camel people to know about the camel culture of great Thar desert which is famously known as the Cholistan. The vice-chancellor of the IslamiUniversityty (Dr Iftikhar) was very kind and humble while providing all the best facilities and opportunities to the conference participants. Camel scientists from 7 different countries also participated.The Desert’s Livestock Species Have Tremendous Potential for Milk Produciton
The scientists presented their work on camel culture, milk production potential, milk characteristics, camel breeds and breeding, diseases and economic opportunities etc. The local media covered the event in a very nice way and kept the country audience and viewers aware regarding the conference. At the end of the camel conference, the following recommendations were suggested.
To maintain camel genetic and production diversity with the involvement of the camel herders and policymakers
To maintain camel habitats, especially Cholistan desert intact and safe from land grabbing etc
The slogan of ‘DESERT SHOULD REMAIN THE DESERT‘ was given for Eco-conservation of Camels and ‘SAVE PASTROLISM
More interaction development among the camel people, camel scientists and policymakers should initiate
Research on camel diseases and other health issues should initiate and coordinate with the international bodies in this field
Publication of full-length articles of the abstracts received in ICC-2013 in a peer-reviewed journal
Industry Liaison for Value Addition of camel products
Enhanced collaboration with foreign camel researchers and institute
Camel conference was a great opportunity, except the bad weather with the heavy fog. At the end of the conference, the meeting of the CAP was organized and some decisions were made. The decisions of the CAP are given in the ensuing lines.
The foreign scientist (not more than 5) will be invited purely on merit basis to make it more worthwhile and fruitful
The meeting was held on 21st Dec at 8 pm
I suggested a seminar (with very specific title) and with very specific number of participants
The seminar will be in the month of Jan or Feb 2015, as the next ISOCARD is in June 2015 Almatay Kazakhstan
The venue of the meeting will be decided later but most probably, Karachi, Uthal, Quetta or Lahore
CAP member list will be compiled according to the registered members in 3 categories, i.e.
category A. Scientist/Activist/NGOs
Category B. Camel Herders
Category C. Students
Next election will be held on the occasion of the Seminar in 2015
The CAP registration amount, other income and expenditure if any, will be compiled and will be present to the cabinet
A Skype/online consultative meeting of the willing CAP members or other scientists to highlight/fix and mention the priority areas on camel in Pakistan
I am very pleased now, as the importance of camel is being appreciated in Pakistan. In the climate change context and challenge of food security; camel is the best choice to accept these challenges.
Camel milk competition concluded last evening here in Cholistan desert (of Pakistan). It was quite interesting in many ways and I felt that at least I should share some of its salient features. It started on 12th October and concluded on 14th. Some 40 camels (locally called Dachis) contested and some owners had more than one. All animals were towards the end of their lactation. The size of the calf also matched with this narration. First thing was that it was not the best time for such competitions because camels generally calve in Jan/Feb/March and better time could have been April/May.Barela Camel is the Milk Line of Riverine Pakistan
The participants were not just the men and grownup boys as happens with our cattle/buffalo competitions in March every year. Rather families were there. Milkers combinations were man and wife or man and daughter or mother and daughter or mother and son etc. It was heartening to see these lively families. Amma Pathani (Mom Pathani) was very prominent. She contested like other men and forced even me (the chief judge) to announce results of every camel first in the local dialect, then in local language and then in national language as it was difficult for her (and other contestants, mostly unable to read or write) to wait for more than few seconds. So I had to round things for announcing and remain precise on paper. Her camel got 4th position and was given a special prize. Milk yield (once a day milking, recorded for two days) for 1st, 2nd and 3rd position camels was 17.1 (Bawali), 15.7 (Katti) and 15.1 (Malookan. I wonder if they could produce at this level in 9-10th months of their lactation what would be the yield in the 2nd month after calving. We will see next year.
Another important yet expected information was that most of these animals were 2nd and 3rd calvers with some 1st calvers and very few in later parities. Most belonged to either Barela (the dairy breed) or a cross between Barela and Marecha (the racing and dancing breed). Very few were Sindhi or crossbred Sindhis.
Camel dances at the event were worth watching. We had to walk on sand (with camels on our back) about 2 km to the prize distribution ceremony and dances continued. People seemed drunk with camel milk as they did not stop for a second. Age was not a limiting factor. It ranged from ~4 to >80.
An important announcement is that next year’s camel milk and dance competitions will coincide (conclude) with the camel day, 22nd June. As announced previously, camel conference is planned next year at Bahawalpur and site of milk competition is just 35 km from the city.
Camels from Pakistan are going to Gulf and even to France (for camel milk chocolate) but without a proper breeding and replacement system, my fear is that sustainability issue will haunt in future. Exploitation of camel herders is also feared. Thanks to all those who kept encouraging and were even trying to see everything through sound waves. We will try to post on this discussion forum as the next year events unfold. Few photos are placed. More photos with videos will be posted on http://fangrpk.org.
Camel, the tolerant, adaptable, docile and loving creature especially gifted by nature to the harsh and hostile ecosystems of the world. The people living in such regions are really blessed and gifted with this unique creation. Unfortunately, in the fast world and fast life era, this unique gift was either ignored or undermined by different quarters especially the policymakers. The author, therefore, proposed a day (22nd June) to think and think about this precious animal and spread awareness to give proper place again. Thanks to all my friends and colleagues, including scientists, activists, and family members who supported this cause and now the people have realized the importance of this great friend of mine~ The dear Camel.
A real camel day 22nd June in the Pat of Sibi. This day was a tribute to these very special and unique animal in the Pat of Sibi. We took milk from them and made Sourine (the fermented milk in Balochi culture). Hence a world camel day was celebrated on 22nd June. Though 21st June is the longest day in northern hemisphere 21st June is dedicated to World Music Day. This picture was shot in the hottest place of Pakistan (Sibi), in the hottest month (June). The camels are sitting naked to the sunshine, enjoying regurgitation.
Not only the harsh summers, but the camel equally tolerate the extreme cold weathers of the regions like Gobi desert.
Kharani camel is found in the Chaghai-Kharan desert of Balochistan Pakistan. One of the best milch animal in the world. This breed is the most efficient (producing more milk per kg dry matter feed intake) and survives sustainable in the challenging environment. There is high variability within the breed for milk production. In the wet days of the year, when there is succulent vegetation, some specimen of the breed produce up to 38 liters of milk per day.
Unfortunately, this breed is under severe threat. The main cause of erosion is the depletion of Thagaz (Halloxylon spp) which is the most important feedstuff for camels in the region. Also, there is illegal export to Iran, where it is slaughtered and erosion of this unique animal genetic resources is happening since years. The policy makers of Pakistan should take steps to conserve this precious animal with the involvement of the camels’ keepers.
Camel is one of the important modes of transportation for the nomad (Kochis) who travels longer with their livestock, especially sheep and goats. The Gaddai or Pahwal breed of camel is unique of its kind and highly resistant to foot rots in cold wet weather, walks longer distances and can exist in cold and wet weather with scarce feed and water resources. The word Gaddai is derived from Pashtu (the Afghan Kochis mother tongue), meaning compact and round. Pahwal is the word use for Kochis in some Pashtun tribes. The milk production potential is lower, ranges from 3-10 liter per day but the higher variation is the option hope of a medium dairy potential.
Some tribes of the Kochis cross Bolan pass and enter in Kachhi area of Balochistan and some go further and enter in Sindh province, use the Indus river banks and adjoining areas for grazing of their livestock and the nomads work in the crops of local farmers.
Unfortunately, some Kochis are leaving camel culture and adapted tractors for luggage transportation because of the hinders in the historic routes and war and conflict in the region. Also, the land grabbers deforested the Indus banks and grabbed the lands for the cropping, especially the cotton crop.Floods, river Indus and the local livestock breeds in Pakistan
Some tribes replaced camels with the tractors, while the others use a donkey for this purpose. The donkey is equally good and strong transport animal but the longer distances really need the incredible camel.
This breed is under threat because of many reasons, all are manmade. Gaddai is one of the strongest breed/lines of a camel in the region. The British empire chose this breed of the camel to export to the Australia and used in terrain rugs of the country for heavy transport. The Australian camels are mainly composed of this breed.