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.

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.

The Indigenous Societies (Institutions) are Resilient to the Climatic catastrophes

Playing with nature since last two centuries is now appearing in the calamities of climate change. The normal cycles of drought due to El Niño is now changing very adversely. (El Niño brings widespread drought (i.e., precipitation deficit) to the tropics. Stronger or more frequent El Niño events in the future and/or their intersection with local changes in the mean climate toward a future with reduced precipitation would exacerbate drought risk in highly vulnerable tropical areas). Many vulnerable societies to climate change are now suffering. Drought in the horn of Africa is the latest news, pushing million of people to the hell of hunger and malnutrition. The famines in Africa are concurrent.

Many vulnerable societies to climate change are now suffering. Drought in the Horn of Africa is the latest news, pushing millions of people to the hell of hunger and malnutrition. The famines in Africa are concurrent on the continent because of climate change, one of the worst affected continents. Unfortunately, the response to such calamities is always faulty and for time being. If the world put as much effort into long-term programs to build resilience in communities, as it is now doing to feed the hungry, this famine would never have happened in horn of Africa.

The climate change scenario is happening, is no more a fashion of discussions. Climatic change is appearing with its consequences, i.e. droughts and floods like in Africa and Asia respectively. Once again floods are hitting human settlements and agriculture field in South Asia, especially Pakistan. The question is food security in sustainable manner. Food aids and emergency help cannot work long. Short term policies and introduction of high yielding varieties of plants and animals cannot work sustainably. These all efforts are short term. The main question is how to strengthen local communities to produce resilience and adapt to climate change. Produce food items from their own resources (well adapted livestock and plant species) in the climate change context.

drought

The first mistake started with the introduction of high yielding exotic varieties, which need very high inputs, ultimately result in environmental dilemma. Fruit farming in North and central highlands of Balochistan is the best example of the environmental degradation and water shortage as consequence of green revolution. While in fruit farming practices, ground water was lifted with electric power and now there is shortage of even drinking water. Also, high inputs in the form of pesticides and fertilizer resulted in many environmental consequences and loss of precious flora and fauna (biodiversity) and change in agroecosystems.

The fourth report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) published in 2007 projects that the global temperature of the planet’s atmosphere will likely have increased 1.1 to 6.4 C by the end of this century. The impact studies on biodiversity have shown significant changes in ecosystem and species distributions, principally due to increasing temperatures and altered precipitation regimes. The climate change will more intensify and threat to biodiversity and food chain will be more deepen. The scientists are agreeing that the loss to biodiversity minimizes the opportunities of food production. Another report, published very recently on world media, revealed that the flora and fauna migrate towards the pole and the polar diversity is going to disappear. The situation is changing very quickly, it is the time to rethink on the policies relates to local resources and communities to cope with the climate change calamities. The priority should go to more affected societies more focus to help.

drought and livestock

 Endogenous development and adaptability

Endogenous development is a development from within the communities. Such development is sustainable and resilient to climate change. Endogenous development is also of importance in developed countries with the high-input agriculture. Small-scale production system (SSPS) is an endogenous way of food production. Small-scale production system (SSPS), both of livestock and agriculture is one of the best tools for local communities to resist climate change. Local communities with their knowledge and resources can better coup with the situation of droughts. Pastoralism is another tool of resilience, the local community practice in Africa and Asia. Adaptation to climate change with the help of highly adapted livestock breeds and agriculture varieties is one of the best options; the vulnerable societies have had in hand. Adaptation to climate change is not a new phenomenon. Throughout human history, societies have adapted to climate variability alternating settlements, agricultural patterns, and other sectors of their economies and lifestyles. Adaptation in human history has been mostly successful.

Conclusion

Climate change with all its calamities is striking vulnerable communities very badly. Unfortunately, African and Asian continents are more prone to such calamities. The concurrent droughts and floods in Africa and Asia are the well-known examples of the situation. Indigenous/local resources and knowledge can be the best tool to cope with the climate change scenario, as local varieties are highly adapted to the local conditions. Local genetic resources produce in a very low input system of production and sometimes even need zero inputs. Applying high input unsustainable production system (factory, high mechanized, monoculture, energy based) cannot be helpful. Also, gene control giants (like Monsanto in Africa), land grabbing, political backing for cross breeding of indigenous livestock breeds and regional conflicts are even worsening the situation.

Indigenous livestock breeds, especially camel, can play a better and crucial role in such circumstances. Camel is one of the most important of them, survived the affected families to shift to other places to resist drought. Local livestock breeds consume many times the lesser quantity of water compared to the exotic livestock breeds and are more resistant to local diseases and pests. The best way to combat climate change, droughts, desertification etc is to promote endogenous development and to make the local communities resilient to the situation. The priority of the international aid should go to the most affected communities due to climate change. The main focus should give on the resilience, not just food aid so that the world can live in harmony and peace.