Category Archives: Culture and Heritage

The Farming System that Ensures Biodiversity Conservation

Small scaled family farming plays a multidimensional role, ensure not only livelihood but play a pivotal role in biodiversity conservation. Such farmers judiciously use the weeds and herbs grow along with the crops and use the crop residues as animal feed. Here are some pictures, I shot in my hometown Borai, Loralai which show us the beauty of this unique farming system. The farmer told me that he never used any pesticides and chemical fertilizer.

Orchard grass and the biodiversity

These grasses are rich in nutrients and the best feed for the sheep, goats and the cows.

The place for wild mint

This weed is locally called as Shinshobey in Pashtu. It is a wild mint. This weed is dried/powdered and uses as food with yogurt and shlombey etc.

The beauty as well as rich animal feed

This weed is called as Perwathke in Pashtu, a very rich feed for the small ruminants.

Chicken is the integral part of this farming

The chicken thrives on the insects in the orchard and provides a rich source of protein.

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Vegetables are grown at the orchard, providing rich and safe food for the family.

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The beautiful but rich herbal plant

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Apricot tree, the small piece of land is richer with different types of trees

Frog breeding is ensured here

The small canal providing a niche for the frog breeding. One can see the eggs of the frogs.

More plants and animals diversity is placed on a smaller piece of land with the highest productivity and the whole family depends on this farm in one or other way.

Cow dung is a biofertilizer

The cow dung is dried and use as a fuel. The remaining material (powdered) is used as farmyard manure

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Borai is home to delicious Anar (Pomegranate)

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Damson fruit, locally called as Aloo. The dried fruit is a source of spices with sheep meat.

Author of the manuscript with a plum tree

We can find many different types of trees, plants, vegetables, and weeds on a smaller piece of land

 

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/

International Camel Conference at Islamia University Bahawalpur Pakistan

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.

Marrecha camel safari caravan passing nearby the Dirawarr Forte

Camel is the unique heritage of the region Cholistan

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

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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

IMG_2082[1].jpgCamel 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.
  1. category A. Scientist/Activist/NGOs
  2. Category B. Camel Herders
  3. 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.