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.
Vegetables are grown at the orchard, providing rich and safe food for the family.
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.
The almond tree with heavy production
Almond catch good prices and also a source of family food in winter
Alfalfa for cow (milking)
Some green chilies are the integral part of the food
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).
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.
Arab Traditional Knowledge and the related terminologies about the camel milking traits or dairy traits
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.