Tag Archives: Bactrian camel

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).

Bactrian camel near Uppsala, Sweden

This camel farm belong to a couple, Gunila and her husband. This happy couple use Bactrian camel for Eco-toursim and TV programs. They are very much happy and enthusiastic with their came. They live in a very beautiful place with their beautiful camels.

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Bactrian camel in Central Sweden

Bactrian camel in Central Sweden

The camel farm (Gyttorp, central Sweden) consists of 3 camels; named as Kalle, Karlsson, and Anna owned by a couple, Inger Haglund and her husband Per-Ola Magnusson. The camel depends on berry bushes, grasses, and trees for food.

me and the camel owner

The couple is heading this small herd of camels since last few years and uses it for riding and other eco-touristic purposes. The camels are a new entry in the Swedish landscape. According to Inger, It’s much easier to handle them and they have developed very much with the riding. The couple has a dream that someday there might even be camel racing in Sweden.

For further reading, please go to the links below.

Diversifying Farms and Income with Camel in Sweden

Sweden is situated in the north of Europe and is one of the beautiful Scandinavian countries. Winters are very harsh, snowy and dark. Summers are bright with long days and a lot of grasses and flowers. Being a co-scientist and friend of camel researchers of Sweden, I visit this country, national veterinary institute (SVA) and country sides time to time. Dr Kerstin de Verdier, a very humble and kind fellow always materializes this tour and helps in exchange of knowledge and research projects.
A visit to meet and look at the camel (camelids) farms in Sweden was the important part of my visit this term (10-19 September, 2012). I visited Bactrian camel farms in the country sides and met camel owners. I was always warmly welcomed by the camel keepers and shared their experiences. The camel owners here in Sweden are hobbyists and they use camels for eco-tourism and ecosystem management. They keep camel as family members and the camels are very obedient and familiar with the commands of the owner. The camel numbers are 2-3 of the individual farm. Here camels enjoy a lot of succulent grasses and abundant water. The camels are healthy and sometimes even overweight.

The problems and constraints the owners shared are some health problems like that of constipation, diarrhea, mange, teeth problem, acidosis, worm infestation etc.

Constipation

It is a very complex problem. Once a camel (camelid) was treated by the local vet for a long time and it was diagnosed as a bacterial infection. The camel was very weak and near to death and the owner had lost hope of ts recovery. When I had a look at the animal, I noticed constipation with the help of my ethnoveterinary background and offered black tea and some other local things. The camel recovered partially within one hour and completely within two days, and then remained healthy. Constipation usually comes when the camels are shifted from winter hay to rich green vegetation of spring.

Diarrhea
Usually diarrhea comes with the spring, when there are a lot of succulent grasses. In the beginning, the grasses have ample of water with low fiber content. Such diarrhea is beneficial and healthy but the farmers are new (with camel experience) with this phenomenon and sometimes worry about it. I think such diarrhea helps in eliminating worms and promote good health.
If there is intermittent diarrhea and constipation and the duration prolongs, then it can be worm infestation. Sometimes, the feces turn black after a while with the sunlight, such sign is also a typical symptom of the worm infestation. In such cases it is hereby recommended to please contact local veterinarian for fecal examination and further necessary action.

Mange
Mange is skin problem. It is caused by parasites in the skin. The animal feels itching and rubs the affected part of skin against hard objects. The affected part of skin becomes hard, dry, sometimes black and cracked. The hairs disappear and the skin becomes naked. It usually starts with the hump, base of the neck and shoulders. Humid and rainy springs are more helpful in provoking this disease.
Some tips can be helpful in mange healing and management. Putting ash on the floor in the stable of the camel can help as it paste on the skin of the camel and not allow the mange parasite to thrive on. Sand bath is also very helpful as the camel like to roll in the sand and it helps in cleaning body scraps. Body scraps are inviting factors for mange and other skin diseases. I hereby suggest avoiding using ash and sand in the same time as they nullify the effect of each other in the same time.

Salt hunger and teeth problem
Camel needs more salts as compare to other livestock. Camel relies on salt and thorny bushes in its habitat and live in harsh and hot (also cold like Gobi desert) regions of the world. They need ample amount of salts to recover salt loss because of environmental stresses, its biological makeup and load of work in those regions. The people then misunderstand it with high salts requirements everywhere. In the conditions like that of Sweden, with ample and rich vegetation, salt is not an alarming question. Though still camel needs salts for its unique biological requirements. Provision of common salt can be enough for camel in good vegetation conditions. During the scarcity of lush green vegetation like that in winter mineral can be offer to camel. Ground or pelleted mineral mixture is suggested as stone of mineral can harm camel teeth and camel can get older during a short period of time. Camel do not lick and usually chew, in such conditions stone mineral salt is very promoting of teeth decay.

Acidosis
The camel calves, not well fed with mother milk are very prone to this problem. Their true stomach (abomasum) remains underdeveloped and the rumen part developed more than usual because of the shifting from milk to roughages in early age. Such conditions are helpful in provoking acidosis. Acidosis is well known for its signs as salivation, strong odor from the mouth, diarrhea and sometimes constipation, un-thriftiness, rough wool. Such complex condition provokes worm infestation and cause weakness of the animal. Acidosis is really fatal in camels. The best way is to offer abundant milk to the calf at least for one year. In case of acidosis, calcium carbonate salt is very effective and gradually diminishes this problem. In complex cases local veterinarian can be contacted.

Trouble shootings
• Camel is a big and strong animal. It is better not to challenge camel and the handler should not force the camel for a command if he/she is not willing. In such cases camel can harm the handler, especially if he/she is alone. Camel is very good in learning if practice in humble way.
• Also, do not stand in front of camel if it is sitting or standing, as camel suddenly extend its neck forward to balance its body. The person in front of camel can be knocked on the face by its’ head.
• As a good practice, try to avoid continuous repeated sitting and standing of camel. It is very stressfully for camel and even can harm its joints.

Looking forward
Camel promotion in countries like Sweden can bring a pleasant breeze as the camel is unique of its kind and attracts thousands of people. The people really love camel in Sweden and want to see it. Camel can be used as a tool for promotion of ecotourism. Camel development can be a crack in the peanut mind of monoculture. The camel is good in vegetation consumption as it likes variety of flora biodiversity, hence helps in landscape management. The camel feet are soft like cushion and do not harm the vegetation and soil fertility. Camel can be a tool of collaboration among south and north of the world. The experience of the pastoral peoples with camel in the south can be used by the new herders in the north and bring friendship and understanding. Use of camel can bring back and strengthen the diversifying of farms and their income. Camel is a good tool for recreation for the kids with mental retardation and autism etc. Camel milk can be another luxury and useful for health and wellbeing of people.

The Strong and Brave, Tolerate hottest days of the year (22 June), A world Camel Day

The Brela camel of Pat. The highly tolerant and adapted camels of Sibi plains (Pat) of Balochistan. Here the people say the heat waves come from the hell and mercury touches 52 Celsius in Summer. I took this picture on 22nd June and there were really heat waves of the hell but these camels were happily enjoying the sunshine in the Pat (barren land)

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.

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Another very special breed of the camel in the region is Brahvi camel. The breeders are in love with the black color and they select for such coat of 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.

Bactrian Camels in the South Gobi Province of the Mongolia

I shot this picture in the month of the May. Though the weather was not hot still the environment is not very friendly for the exotic livestock.