Category Archives: cradle of domestication

The Camel Milk Story from the Gobi Desert Mongolia

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.

img_51551-e1529573776340.jpgI 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.

A Bank advertisement with camel, the first thing I saw on arrival

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.

Me with Enkhie in Chansiz 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.Nomad house decorated with many camel medals

Gobi is a vast land with rich floral biodiversityThis 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.Bactrian camel is very good riding animal

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.

  1. Galba Gobiin Ulaan (Reddish colored camel)
  2. Khaniin Khestiin Khuren (Brown colored camel)
  3. Thukhum MTungologiin kKhos Zogdott Khuren (double line neck hair)

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Breeding Season

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

Months Conception Rate (%) Calving %age Avg. Milk (kg)
Jan 25 25 0.1
Feb 15 16 0.15
Mar 4 5 0.175
Apr 2 3 0.2
May 2 1 0.3
Jun 1 1 1.2
Jul 1 1 1.8
Aug 1 2 1.6
Sep 3 2 1.5
Oct 5 4 0.5
Nov 16 15 0.17
Dec 25 25 0.1

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

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Harmok

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 Ultimate Choice or an Old Song with the New Drum?

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. 

The Kharani camel in the Kharan desert

The best milk yielder in the deserted ecosystems

*Sustainability in true sense means ‘considering the hidden costs like water & carbon footprint along with the other environmental factors.

 Based on my experience and lifetime achievement, the native/local genetic resources are the only choice to ensure livelihood in a true sense of sustainability RESILIENCE OF NATIVE LIVESTOCK BREEDS TO CLIMATE CHANGE
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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.

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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

Africa camel

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 Camel Milk in Pakistan~An Example

Pakistan is home to 0.9 million camels with a 20% of lactating camel (herd composition) Livestock production and population census in Pakistan: Determining their relationship with agricultural GDP using econometric analysis. About 0.18 million camels give milk for a lactation (average 2,200 kg/lactation), producing around 396,000 ton of milk annually but had never been considered a documented food item in the grey records of the country. Per head basis camel in the country produces far better than the indigenous cattle/buffalo breeds, Frisian, and their crosses (in true measurement model).

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Conclusion

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.

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Plants that are Liked such as Icecream by the Camels. Part 2

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.

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The fiber of the plant is used for the treatment of gout and rheumatism

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.

Marakh is a multipurpose plant, use for different aspects as well as food. I have started a new series of short films on the ice cream species of plants. The link to the video channel about the March plant is given below. Camel Icecream spp Marakh or Boom Bush (Leptadenia pyrotechnica)

22xBroom Bush

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The flowers are edible

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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.

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A ticket of 50 fils by UAE government to endorse the role of this precious plant in the country

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.

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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.

Zygophyllum qatarense is a salt-tolerant plant of the Arabian Peninsula

Pharmacological Action and Toxicity

  • Diuretic and antipyretic
  • Anti-histamine activity
  • Healing constipation
  • The juice from fresh leaves and stems is used for the treatment of certain skin diseases
  • For lowering of blood pressure

The Ice Cream Species of Plants for the Camel and Goat. Part 1

Easy and Fast vs the Difficult and Slow Milking Camels~The Arabs’ Traditional Knowledge

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

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Courtesy of Kamahl, from Aldafra camel festival

Fashoosh 

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.

Fashoosh camel with the easy milking

Camel with this trait means very good milking Naqa (lactating camel)

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.

Ghamoos (difficult teat of camel)

The artistic structures tell the Ghamoos teats

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

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Courtesy of Kamahl, from Aldafra camel festival

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.

The ethonoterminologies are very meaningful to express the traits, certain managemental aspects, and harvesting/processing of the products. The Camels’ Terminologies Needs to be Re-established. Such terminologies and relevant knowledge need to be properly documented, reported and conserved for the generations to come. The Arabian society is very rich with the traditional knowledge regarding camels as camel was domesticated, evolved and managed by this community Nature Engineered Distinctive DNA to Beat the Challenge of Climate Change.

The Camels’ Terminologies Needs to be Re-established

The world terminology in Wikipedia is written as;

Terminology is the study of terms and their use. Terms are words and compound words or multi-word expressions that in specific contexts are given specific meanings.

The camel terminology is mainly derived from a cow/cattle production system in English, which is a wrong approach. I’m giving you a food for thought to reconsider and re-establish camel’s terminology. As the camel was domesticated, evolved and managed for centuries in Arabian Peninsula, the best terminology will be the one used in that region.roadtrip0501_8_base

As an example, I hereby give some terms which I learned here in the region and some are found in the literature. I’m lucky living in the specific area (Hilli Alqatara in Alain) where the camel was domesticated. I can say, I’m living in the cradle of camels’ domestication.The Ice Cream Species of Plants for the Camel and Goat, the camel icecream food is found in the region.Al Ain National Museum Explores the History of Domesticated Camels. The analysis of bones found on dig sites across the country indicated that camels were tamed and domesticated no earlier than 1000 BC. 

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  1. Camel is not a cow… the best word for milking camel is……  NAQA
  2. Camel male kid is not a calf but a …………………                          Gaood
  3. Camel Female calf is not a heifer but a………………………………….Bakra
  4. The breeding male is not a bull but a…           ………………………..Baeer    

I am really looking forward to discussion, criticism, fortification, addition to this precious topic.

Reference;

http://www.almaany.com/en/dict/ar-en/camel/

Morak Goat Breed of the Chaghai Kharan Desert

Habitat: Chaghai Kharan desert especially Raskoh mountains of the region is the home track of the breed. The breed is very close to its wild ancestors. There are many tribes, rearing this breed of goat, which are Badeni, Muhammad Hasani, Maingul, Jamaldini, Sasoli, Sanjrai, Nothezi, Nausherwani, Malangzai, Siafad, Faqirzai, Hajizai,.

Phenotypic characteristics: The goat has medium size with black body coat, very rare specimen with white color is also found. The long curled horns, especially in the male with beard are the salient feature of the breed. The goat also produces reasonable amount of milk.

Vegetation: Vegetation of the area liked by the goat is comprising of Ghaz (Tamarix Articula), shrub as Taghaz (Haloxylon Amodendron), bushes like Hashwarg (Rhozya Stricta), Pog (Calegnum Polygonaides) Cotor (Stockcia Brohinca), Lara (Salsola Kali), Kandar (Alhogi Camelarum), Barshonk, Karwankush, Narronk (Salsola Arbuscula), Tusso (Gaillaina Aucheri) and grasses like Mughair (Atriplex Dimprphostegium), Kash (Sacchorum Siliare), Righith (Suoeda Monica) Shanaluk (Allium Rubellum). etc.The Ice Cream Species of Plants for the Camel and Goat. Part 1Part 2. Ice Cream Species of Plants for the Camel and Goat

Population: Population of the breed is almost 0.5 million. The population trend is increasing. Morak breed is one of the badly affected goat breeds in the province by the previous drought (1998-2003), as the drought was very severe in this ecological zone.Effects of Drought on Livestock Sector in Balochistan Province of Pakistan

Special Traits:

  • Close to its wild ancestors
  • It is very accessible to inaccessible areas for grazing, i.e. the peaks of the mountains
  • The animal is very alert and fast running, hence can’t be eaten by pest and predators. More close to wild ancestors
  • High milk production in harsh environment of the region in a very low input system of the ordinary grazing

Option Hopes: Close relation to its wild ancestors.

Morak goat of Kharan Washuk region

Economic importance: The most important breed for livelihood earning of the pastoral livestock keepers of the region. It provide milk in the harsh environment when the sheep milk yield ceased. It also provides cash by selling it, when the livestock keepers need cash money. The animal may attain good weight and attract good prices because of its more meat and height.

Occupy Gene Banks and Ensure Livelihood and Biodiversity

The state of the world is very critical and the time is reached to stand and ask for change. Millions of dollars are spending on wars and much more goes in the oven of bankruptcy. Industrialization/privatization is the third sword hanging on the head of humanity. This entire situation created an evil triangle which resulted in poverty, malnutrition, hunger, jobs losses, wars, and many other consequences. This evil triangle is now going a step forward for future food control. To do this, a complex state of the situation is created in the form of stealing genes (biopiracy), patents for genes, so-called gene banks, GMO, BT, and promotion & backing for the promotion of industrialized breeds.6a0120a7fc3be9970b01a511a24eb7970c

The situation is even more than nastiest. Local verities of seed, capable of combating climate change and resist droughts are pushed towards extinct with the evil mind of money hungry industrialized seed multinational companies. BT cotton is causing havoc losses to local biodiversity and now the weed control is near to impossible. Such act as backing and promotion of exotic verities pushed smallholders at stake and hunger increased manifold beside the so-called green revolution. Ban Genetically Modified FoodThe green revolution no doubt increased food production but at the cost of human health, environment, and biodiversity. Blind use of fertilizers, pesticides, weedicides, antibiotics, artificial colors and synthetic hormones created a situation of complex human health and many more new diseases introduced. Actually, green revolution was meant to destroy the resilience of local communities to climate change and drought which ultimately depend on the multinationals. Added benefits of reducing meat and dairy consumptionThis phenomenon resulted in giving food control in the hand of multinational.

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If we talk about livestock biodiversity, the situation is very fragile and millions of smallholders are deprived of their precious indigenous livestock breeds and pushed in the hell of poverty and hunger. Millions of small livestock keepers, especially pastoralists in the South (underdeveloped part of the world, especially dry lands) depend on indigenous livestock breeds for their survival. People and Animal Agriculture~The Philosophy of the Low Carbon Livestock

Also, these small farmers and pastoralists are the custodian of precious livestock biodiversity in their habitats and ecosystems. Their livestock breeds depend on very marginal lands for grazing which has no other use. Livestock production systems of such farmers need very low or even zero inputs, therefore, their share in climate change is very limited. The keepers of the breeds continuously evolve their breeds with the help of their indigenous knowledge in tune with environmental changes and consumer demands. My Philosophy of Sustainability — Camel, food security and climate change

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The Southern hemisphere of the planet earth is the cradle of animal domestication and almost all the livestock species for food and agriculture traveled from South to North. During the last 100 years, gene flows from South to North have been dwarfed by flows in the opposite direction, from North to South. Large numbers of animals, semen, embryos, and eggs are shipped to developing countries, and Northern breeds (particularly of pigs, poultry, and dairy cattle) have become firmly established in various countries. This development led to the erosion of livestock biodiversity in the South.Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine | Full text | Ethnoveterinary treatments by dromedary camel herders in the Suleiman Mountainous Region in Pakistan: an observation and questionnaire study

The influx of high performing genotypes into existing breeds has always been an important component in developing and improving breeds. In the history of all species investigated, gene flow has contributed significantly to diversity. In population genetics, migration is an important source of genetic variability. But the international exchange of genetic material (North to South) from a decreasing number of sires (bulls) increasingly loses genetic variation with global impacts for developed and developing countries.FAO Press releases on AnGR

This flow of gene (breeds) is very unnatural and has environmental consequences. Such breeds need very high inputs of energy in the form of acclimatizing housing and feeding high energy and protein levels. Also, according to a study, naturally the flora and fauna species travel from south to north to cope with the climate change. In this context, this is an opportunity for southern breeds to flow towards the north and that is very natural. Hence supporting gene flow from north to south is very stupid and wasting the money of the western taxpayer in the form of subsidies to the breeders of the North.9bbc88561fc80ec31840891c58fc22e9

The northern governments subsidize livestock exports by their banking system, while the South has furthered the import of exotic genetic materials, for example by offering livestock keepers credit, services, and subsidized feed. Southern governments tend to favor livestock industrialization at the expense of smallholder producers. International agreements regulating agricultural trade are likely to enhance the intensification of livestock production and increase gene flows to the South.

North breeds not only alter the breed diversity of the South but promotes a new culture of agricultural intensification and industrialization, leads to benefit the industries of developed countries. Such system is always dependent on foreign aids. The cash amount of aid usually goes into the pocket of corrupt officials and politicians and again transfers to the western banks. This is an evil cycle of money to exploit the small stockers of the south and narrow the diversity of the breeds.Turning Again to the Native Gene ~ Back to the Future

Failure of this system

  • Breeds are neither suited for the new environment nor fits with the goals and strategies of the producers.
  • Northern breeds are already very narrow within-breed diversity and very prone to the pest and diseases of the new environment.
  • Such production systems need institutional and technical support to its producers which the developing countries seldom provide.
  • Breeding decisions are increasingly taken out of the hands of farmers and herders. While relatively few Southern breeds have so far disappeared.
  • They have been selected for high yields and require standardized conditions and high inputs to exploit their genetic potential.
  • Exotic livestock breeds, especially poultry, and pig are in competition with the human population for food resources as they depend on the grains.
  • According to data collected by the FAO, 18 % of the 740 farm animal breeds that were recorded as extinct were bred from the South
  • However, among the breeds at risk, including the status endangered and critical, 60% are from the South and this proportion is expected to increase.
  • However, if the risk factors “change of husbandry”, “expansion of large-scale intensive livestock production” or “people giving up herding or farming” are taken into account, then the South could become the hotspot of breed loss of the 21st century.
  • Southern governments need to recognize their contribution to breed development and secure their access to grazing and water, services and education.

In short, the time is reached to raise voice against the gene piracy and future food control. The planet is mother earth for all. Let stop playing with nature to earn money and fattening banks. Let raise our voice against manipulating genetic makeup of flora and fauna. Gene patient is one the dangerous weapon to control the state of future food. Gene is the creature of nature and our mother earth. No way to the patent gene.

Right, the based approach is the best tool in the present political situation of the world. Every individual and living organism have the right to survival. Let’s stop depriving small-scale farmers of their right. Let them survive and keep their system continue to produce healthy and natural food.

LIFE Network has introduced the livestock keeper’s rights. Join our hands and support the rights of livestock keepers. Here is the link to details of the livestock keeper’s rights.

http://www.pastoralpeoples.org/docs/Declaration_on_LKRs_with_initial%20signatories_6.pdf