Camel Peace Caravan for Conservation of Unique Tamarix Forest

The Lasbela region is covered with more than 12% with wide flora diversity, especially unique Tamarix and Jar species. The woodcutter brutally cut these precious forest trees and sell at very cheaper rates in the nearby towns. Hence, deforestation is happening in a very speedy way. With an appealing thematic area, I am trying to divert woodcutter camel communities to use the camel as a touristic opportunity. From main RCD road to the river of Kerri, there is a long camel route, now declared as camel peace caravan. In this way, the camel woodcutters will divert from their hard job to a nice and easy job of the camel caravan. I hope, we can attract more and more people to enjoy this unique touristic opportunity.Tamarix Forest

As a starting point, I and other two colleagues from the Lasbela University started first Camel peace caravan from the campus to Kerri on 3rd May (2014) and came back the next day. All the pictures are already released on my facebook page. The link is given above in the camel peace caravan.

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Camel is an integral part of the Balochistan’s culture and heritage. Lasbela region of Balochistan is well known for its culture, heritage, and camels. Rich with a wide diversity of flora and fauna, Lasbela is the home tract of two camel breeds (cultural notion). Both breeds are briefly discussed in the ensuing lines.

a. Lassi; It is a pack animal, mostly use for wood and other types of transportation, especially use by wood cutters. The animal is also used for meat production. This camel is widely used for meat in the region. The demand for the male animal is quite high at the Islamic ritual of Eid Adha which is one of the main support for the conservation and development of this breed. As its role as a beast of burden is diminishing, the demand for its meat is the future hope for this precious breed. Lassi Breed of Camel In Balochistan

Lasi camel breed
Milking Camel of Lassi Breed in their true habitat

b. Bhirdi; The tribe of breed keepers and camel breed names are the same. This camel is usually used for riding in deserted ecosystems. It is smart and unique animal and milk is by-product use by the pastoralists in the weathers when others animals’ milk is ceased.

Bhirdi Camel Breed
Author riding race camel of Bhirdi breed

Camel is still and will be an integral part of the Lai people’s culture. To advocate the role of the camel in its true habitat of Lasbela, this precious animal can be a very useful source of earning for the marginalized people. Otherwise, they will continue the process of deforestation which will be a great loss for the precious biodiversity of the hot spot of coastal landscape of the country. Camel peace caravan is one of the important initiatives not only to halt deforestation but also to use this animal of peace for the further strengthening of peace and brotherhood in the region.

Camel as a Gift to cricket team of Pakistan

Camel is a useful and pivotal animal in its habitats all over the world. Best suited to drylands, camel is a unique animal providing livelihood and cultural luxury to the inhabitants of that region.camel had been using as a gift of dowry but first time in history gifted as the reward to the cricket players. Finance Minister of Balochistan province of Pakistan announced to give camel to each cricket player of Pakistani team as the reward for winning series from India. We the camel people are happy as the camel is getting importance among the policy makers and politicians of the country.Image

Lassi Breed of Camel In Balochistan

Lassi camel is found in coastal area of Balochistan and Sindh. The climate of the region is hot and humid. Camel is not only use for transportation but also found as separate herds and is main livestock activity. The camel herders purely dependent on camels and earn daily needs from it.

Lassi Breed of Camel In Balochistan
The author with Lassi breed camels in Wayar Bela

The camel thrieve on the local vegetation, the main flora is Tamarix. The keepers of the Lassi breeds use this breed for livelihood earning and the milk is the most important source of food for them.

Lassi breed 1.jpg
The breed is multipurpose and found in different colors combinations

For more details, please go to the link below.

https://camel4all.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/lassi-camel-breed/

 

Raidi or Jathnasal Camel breed of Balochistan

This breed of camel purely belongs to a pastoral community of Jath. They are entirely pastoral and move on the Kachhi basin and reach to Sindh province of Pakistan in winter and in summer they reach up to their destination in the Bolan hills. According to them, Berrela breed of Thal (a small desert in Punjab province of Pakistan) and Cholistan is the offshoot of their breed (Raidi).

ImageThere is a very touchy story about the Raidi breed, as they (pastoralists) said that when the Muslim pilgrims of the sub-continent had been travelling with their camels’ caravan to Makka, that time the Raidi pastoralists were the main providers of energetic fresh camel to the Hajis (pilgrims) and to take their sick, injured camels to take rest and get well. After returning from Hajj, the pilgrims were to hand over their camel back to pastoralists and have to take their own camels. In this way, they said that the Raidi camel has the genetic characters of all the camel breeds of the sub-continent because of the breeding with the bulls of the sub-continental camels.

Riadi camel is good in milk, highly resistant to the extremely hot weather of the region, well suited for work in the agricultural field and resistant to many diseases. The camel is the heaviest in the region and weight up to 700 kg. Image

Problems and Constraints of Indigenous Livestock Keepers of Balochistan

Livestock keeping is one of the main agricultural activity in the historic grazing lands of Balochistan. More than 50% of the native people of the province rely (completely or partially) on livestock. The region is the cradle of livestock breeds domestication, later on, evolved with the tune of climate change and consumers’ demand for the livestock products. Today the livestock keepers of the province have very specialized livestock breeds fulfilling the multipurpose breeding goals of the keepers. In spite of all their good role they play, the livestock keepers of here are neglected, discouraged and left unattended. The main issues are hereby raised in the ensuing lines. 

Decreasing potential of rangelands: Rangelands production potential had been decreased manifold because of the long drought periods and overgrazing. Deforestation made the situation adverse more than ever. The vegetation of the rangelands had been removing for fuel wood very continuously. Both the types and intensity of vegetation had been decreased resulted in dryness and desertification. Due to stress on grazing lands, concurrent droughts, and deforestation, the land has already been prone to erosion resulted in low water absorption. The animal with low-quality feed intake resulted in lower health, poor quality product and prone to diseases. All the above factors increased the intensity of poverty and many more families crossed the line of poverty.

Our customary laws are one of the important tools, which can be used for the protection of the rangeland’s vegetation. Pargorr is our traditional way of conservation and an important article of our customary law. Due to the weak control of government and destabilization of the social tribal system, some problem arising with the application of the customary law. The government had been serving since British era to implement customary laws strictly. Also due to the instability in Afghanistan and other border areas, the irregular movement of the Afghan nomad has worsened the situation.

Water scarcity: Water scarcity is one of the major issues in the province. Water sources are very scarce especially in the uplands of the mountains and deep desert. Though, sometimes feed is available but when the animal reaches there they can’t reach back to the water source.

Lack of animal health facilities: New disease appeared in the register of livestock diseases of the area due to drought, low vigor, zoonotic, i.e. PPR, a new form of FMD, CCHF, udder decay disease and the newest is diarrhea with water comes from the mouth. These diseases have been resulting in the loss of millions of livestock. The intensity of the diseases like anthrax, HS, Enterotoxaemia, FMD, pox, CCPP has increased many folds. The vaccine in most of the cases is not available and there are no diagnostic labs, if available either not equipped or no staff is available. Livestock vanishes with the consequences of diseases and nobody responsible for that.

Lack of modern knowledge and skills: Social, environmental, anthropological changes are affecting our way of production. Modern technologies and media affect our life resulting in social change resulting in flying families from livestock keeper’s community and migrating to urban areas. This dilemma is resulting in creating pressure on the urban resources. Decreased number of livestock keepers, social change.DSC03458

Also, the human population is increasing speedily because of social changes and put more pressure on natural resources. Our forefathers had been keeping family size according to the livestock number the family owned, but the situation is changed now. The changes in the environment have been badly affected our lifestyle and production system. The concurrent droughts, fast winds, creeping desertification had made the situation complex. There are modern techniques to coup with such circumstances in the other parts of the world but the livestock keepers of the province are deprived of it.

Lack of education in our production system is one of the major social problems. The government has no solution to provide education to our kids in the prevailing conditions of our livestock production system. We left behind of all basic needs like education and health. There is no quota for the livestock keepers in the animal health and husbandry education.

Drip loss of precious animal genetic resources: Foreigners especially traders from Gulf region are interested in buying the cream of the genetic resources with the help of the local administration and illegal traders (those who do not pay any tax etc). Also, the government organization import exotic breeds and crosses our precious well-adapted livestock breeds. In the last drought period, we learned that the indigenous breeds were many folds drought resistant to exotic breeds. This dilemma is very complex in cattle.

Marketing of our products: No rules and regulation of marketing, the livestock business benefits go in the pockets of the opportunists’ traders. Our products are organic in nature and have very high value in international markets, but there is nobody in the country to argue for our products.DSC01968

Policies without the livestock keepers: No share in policies related to livestock and genetic resources. The Government and other agencies’ policies apply from top to bottom approach and the keepers are not asking to share their views and concerns. The policies remain unsustainable and completely fail in a short period. The distribution and restocking of livestock project are the eminent examples in this regard.

Conclusion: In my view, one of the main problem (the root of the issues) is the low/zero participation of the native livestock breeders in the fabrication of policies and implementation of development projects for livestock development. All the definitions and concept regarding the management, breeding, feeding and sustainable development of livestock are derived from the western school of thought. The western school of thought for livestock is mainly based on high input and intensive farming with specialized breeds and feeding system. Such concepts are very hard to fit in the extensive, low input and multipurpose system.

Taking on board the livestock keepers for livestock development can bring cool breeze in this sector, though the process will take a bit longer time.

Lessons learnt from droughts in North-eastern Balochistan

We are the custodian of the livestock breeds, so we tried our best as our ancestors did to save it at any cost.

The first possible solution for the problem to save livestock in hard years we found is culling of the larger herd/flocks. To sell out the sick, old, weak and unproductive animals in the start of the dry period is an important tool to fight against the drought. Spend the money gained through the sale of the culled animals on the feeding and health of the animals.

We learnt that we must divide the livestock specie wise, i.e. sending the goat flocks to the high mountains along with the donkeys and young vigorous family members. There was still vegetation in the mountains but there was scarcity of water. The young men can convey water on the donkey back to the goat in remote as the indigenous goat consumes lesser amount of water. Movement of the camel to the remote is also the solution for saving camel. The camel can consume woody vegetation in the remote highlands and can resist water scarcity.

We learnt that camel is the main solution for the drought period. Camel can reach to the remote water point after a long period of grazing. The remote vegetation can be judiciously consume by camel in winter as camel need water once in a week in winter. The camel is also fit for traveling and transportation of family luggage in the inaccessible areas of the mountainous ecology of our region.

Animal health cure is also very important in the dry years, as the weak and emaciated animals are more prone to disease.

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.

Mangeli Sheep of the Central Balochistan

Habitat: The major habitat of the breed is the central Brahvi land. The nucleus areas are Kalat, Mastun, Khuzdar, Wadh and Awaran. The tribe of the breed is Maingul.

Phenotypic characteristics: The sheep is medium in size with coarse wool, black and white body coat. The head of the sheep is usually black. The ears are long and droopy.

Vegetation: Vegetation of the habitat much like by Mangeli sheep is comprised of Saba, Sargharri, Hawe, Gorkha and Kashum.

Population: The population of the breed is a bit hard to compile because of the scattered nature of the breed in a wide area. Moreover the estimation on the basis of the breeders and flock size the estimated population of the breed 1 Million. This breed shrink in size because of two reasons, the First reason of the shrinking was the drought (red spot of the climate change); this breed was severely affected like Dumeri sheep. The second reason is the high financial return of orchard farming of apple and Cherry in the region. Because of the drought and other social changes, many breeders shifted towards orchard farming. Though the number of the breeders decreased the breed is again increasing in size due to high consumer demand for its products.

16342136010_48516144b4_b
The tribe love their sheep genetic resources

 

Special traits:

  • Good thriftiness nature, high compensatory growth
  • v  Good ability to graze in the small area
  • v  Good scavenger animal, also fit for grazing on the waste of the city
  • v  High milk producer under the low input production system.
  • v  High meat yield and a reasonable growth rate

Option hopes:

  • Capable of grazing of the highlands of the region (highly adapted to the landscape)
  • Strong link to the sheep culture with Maingul tribe
  • Precious part of the Balochi culture
  • High consumer demand for the special flavor of the milk

Economic importance: The breed is highly thrifty and produces more meat per unit feed consumption compare to other breeds of the region.  The male animal at the age of 2-3 years is used for Landi purpose Persenda~Dry Meat Cousine of Pashtun Afghan and catches very good prices. Mangeli is one of the best milk producers in the province or may be in the region. The lambs of the breed can be used for feedlot system to produce more and healthy meat. The male at the age of 3 years attains a weight of 80 kg. The lambs are usually slaughtered at the age of 3 years for Landi purpose. The breed is an important source of livelihood earning and the prices are very high for Mangeli sheep in the province. The rate of a Mangeli ewe is almost Rs. 12,000 and that of a male with 3 years of age ranges to a price of Rs. 20,000.

Camel and camel breeds of Balochistan

In continuation of the previous post, I start here with the camel. I shall discuss each breed of Balochistan in details with the perspectives of the livestock keepers.

Introduction to Camels in Balochistan

Camel is the precious and important animal of the province. Camel is the most well-adapted livestock species, survives and produces in climatic extremes and is well appreciated for its’ significance in the pastoral economy of the province. The camel being an important livestock species uniquely adapted to hot and arid environments, like in Balochistan, and therefore contributes significantly to the food security of the nomadic pastoral households. No doubt the automobile and machine transportation decreased its draught role, but it is still an important food animal and indigenous animal genetic resource. Camel is a hardy animal and has proved his worth in the long prevailing droughts in Balochistan, remained almost for 10 years (1994-2004). The Drought Relief Commissioner’s data and other reports indicated that the drought has caused great damage to livestock sector but a lesser number of camels was affected as comparedDSC03458 to other livestock species proportionally. But unfortunately, less attention has been given to camel improvements for many years when planning national development. The breeds of the camel will be discussed in the ensuing paragraphs. There are 6 camel breeds in the province, most of them were never characterized, documented, or discussed in the grey record of the country.

 Brahvi Camel Breed of Central Balochistan.

 The Brahvi camel is well adapted to the arid, cold and mountainous ecology of central Brahvi highlands (CBH) of the province (Figure). Some herds of this breed may also found in northern parts of Sind province. Brahvi camel herders also migrate to the Kachhi basin region of the province in winter. So, the breed is also found in that area in winter.

Production systems and socioeconomic importance

The main production system of Brahvi breed is transhumant, the system in which the pastoral people move with their livestock according to the agriculture operations and foliage availability.  Some of the camel herders of the region move with their camel on fix routes and fix the time of the year. Such system is nomadic, the pastoral people of this production system reach to the north part of Sindh province and some to the Kachhi basin in winter.  Very rare camel herders practice the sedentary way of production. Only male camels for work are reared in a sedentary way.

Brahvi camel is important for the socio-economic life of the herders of central Brahvi highlands.  It provides draught power for family shifting, agriculture operations, and other uses.  Though Brahvi camel produces a lesser amount of milk compared to other breeds of the province but still provide milk for family use in a dry period when the vegetation is not available and goat and sheep milk ceased. The wool is use for making rugs and tents. Usually, the herders do not slaughter the camel but only sick and injured one.  The camel catches high prices because of the smuggling to Iran but this sort of business is also a threat to the camel because of the slaughter of female fertile animals.

 

Population size and trend

The population size of the camel ranges from 5,000 to 7,000. The number of this breed is going downward. The main threats to the breed are the removal of vegetation cover, change in agronomic practices, social changes and illegal smuggling to Iran.

Breeding goal

The major breeding goal of the Brahvi camel herders is to produce camel with good bagging and packing ability and adapted to the cold mountainous ecology of its habitat. The male is selected for breeding and the one with coarse and dense wooly coat, deep brown darkish color and wide chest is always preferred. The male with the vigorous body, round hard foot and wide cannon bone is the choice of the breeders.

Special traits

The major special traits the breeders know are as following

v  Well adaptation to the arid and cold environment.

v  Withstand water scarcity more than other breeds of camel (two weeks).

v  Good in learning commands of the owner (Dlair)

 Phenotypic characteristics

Brahvi camel is smaller in size with comparatively shorter legs but has wide chest making it suitable animal for work in mountains. The Brahvi camel has a great density of long woolly coat which is so dense that it is difficult to pass a finger through it. The hind quarter is massive and strong. The body color is dark to fawn. But grey color with some specimen of white color is also found.  The salient body measurements are given in a table.

Table Biometric parameters of the Brahvi breed (cm)

Body measurements

Male

Female

Mean

Head Length

39.48

39.19

39.25

Head Width

20.14

19.75

19.87

Wither Height

166

164

165

Thoracic Girth

175

173

174

Abdominal Girth

212

236

224

Tail Length

49

47

48

Ear Length

12

12

12

Ear width

7

7

7

Neck Length

92

90

91

Rump Length

142

140

141

Estimated Weight

307

334

320.5

 Table  Reproductive and productive Traits of the Brahvi breed

No

Traits

Values

Male

Female

1 Average birth Weight

48 kg

46 kg

2 Average weaning Weight*

160 kg

150 kg

3 Ready for workload

3 yr

3 yr

4 Use for heavy duty

7-8 yr

Not uses for heavy duty

5 Age of puberty

4 yr

3 yr

6 Average work-life

25 yr

7 Average reproductive life

20 ye

20 yr

8 Conception rate out of herd

40-50 %

9 Gestation  period

375-386 day

10 Calving rate out of herd

40-45 %

11 Calving interval

2 yr

12 Average milk production

7 kg/day

13 Lactation length

8-11 month

14 Wool Production

3.5  kg

Reproductive and productive performance

The maturity in male and female is 4 and 3 years respectively. One bull camel is sufficient to breed 50 cow camels. The service period is 6 days and estrus cycle ranging from 1-4 weeks. The conceived she-camel changes her behavior on the 6th day of service and shows a different behavior as erecting her tail when an animal or a person come near to her. Calving interval is normally two years, depending upon the availability of foliage and lactation length. Average reproductive life of a female is about 20 years. Conception rate of the camel is higher with appreciable calving percentage and rare abortion. The salient features of the breed area given in table 4.

Marketing and future economic potential (Conclusion)

In the present marketing scenario, the camel is mostly shifted to Iran by the illegal mean. The camel catches high prices there and the meat is highly preferred over there. As the camel produce a lesser amount of milk, hence not fit for future milk industry. The future of the camel is very bright for its delicious juicy meat.

Personal Communication

While working with the Majaheem camels in UAE, I have a strong view that Brohi camel is the offshoot of Majaheem breed of camel. Majahem breed is found in KSA and is very good for milk though the animal is comparatively harsher in behavior.