The Nature Engineered Distinctive DNA to Beat the Challenge of Climate Change

Thank God, my dream came true as; specially engineered camel DNA (revealed in a recent study) makes this unique animal a solution to climate change and other challenges. The study ( the author was part of it) published in PNAS with full access here. a day before. The authors have ensured that the remarkable story over its long and celebrated history stands out like a scientific beacon. Without the camel, Arabian trade, medieval conquests, and recent communication routes would all have collapsed, changing the course of events for human civilizations as well as that incredible diversity among the camel gene pools of Asia, Africa, and even Australia.

Kohi Camel Caravan.jpg

A unique and pioneering study of the ancient and modern DNA of the ‘ship of the desert’ the single-humped camel or dromedary has shed new light on how its use by human societies has shaped its genetic diversity. DNA Sequencing Reveals Human Desert Migrations Shaped Camel Genetics.

Dromedaries have been fundamental to the development of human societies, providing food and transport in desert countries, for over 3,000 years. The dromedary continues to be vital for livelihood, food, and recreations where other species would not survive. In the current context of climate change and advancing desert landscapes, the animal’s importance is increasing and there is new interest in the biology and reproduction of the species.

In my opinion “genetic mixing and re-mixing engineered special DNA (camels) as; by constantly mixing the populations, the camels are now very genetically diverse which makes them more resilient to climate change. As predicted by the climate scientists, the mercury will go up with the passage of years, the camels will be the best choice among the others for food security and sustainable farming systems.

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The study suggests that the wild camels, which are now extinct, periodically helped restock domesticated populations. Unlike many other domesticated animals, modern camel populations have maintained their ancestral genetic diversity, potentially enabling adaptation to future changes in terrain and climate, according to the authors.

For more general articles the links are given in the ensuing lines. The links are referred in the article also.

References;

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-36252141

http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2016/05/human-migrations-shaped-camel-dna

http://www.sciencecodex.com/origin_of_dromedary_domestication_discovered-182056

How trade routes forever changed the dromedary camel’s genetic makeup

http://nhv.us/content/16056061-first-domestication-dromedaries-took-place-southeast-arabian

http://www.earthtimes.org/conservation/diversity-camels-conserved-3000-years/2938/

http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/june-2013/article/ancient-trading-networks-and-arabian-camel-diversity

Saving Life on Earth–Saving Biodiversity — GarryRogers Nature Conservation

Human Impact on Biodiversity Unaware of the consequences of its behavior, the growing human population is erasing sixty-five million of years of biodiversity recovery since the massive extinction that eliminated dinosaurs and most other species. This is without doubt the greatest issue of our time, perhaps of all time. In the article below, Quentin Wheeler […]

via Saving Life on Earth–Saving Biodiversity — GarryRogers Nature Conservation

Is Climate Change Well Understood?

The climate change is reality

A huge set of data and the prevailing situations are witnessed of a catastrophic climate change happening. Almost all the major part of the societies are agreed that climate change is happening and the agriculture system will suffer further. The floods, erratic or no rainfall, desertification etc. have adversely affected (and continue even with the faster pace) to alter agriculture production potential of arable farming and livestock productions system.

Livestock Production is Suffering Adversely

The neutral zones of thermoregulation in animals are very challenging and heat intolerance, especially in exotic high producing animals is a catastrophic. The food security is a real challenge and many parts of the world (in one or other farm) is facing hunger and malnutrition.

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Native Livestock have the Adaptation Power

But there are good and potential tools we have to adapt with the higher/lower temperatures and produce in very low input production systems; they are the native animals and plants genetic resources. Unfortunately, their role is seldom value and addressed accordingly which results in development faulty policies regarding food and agriculture. The keepers of the native breeds are void of a strong voice and are seldom heard by policy makers while formulating policies regarding the genetic resources and food security.

But the Native Livestock is under Threat

This situation is very complex and challenging. Many of the gene keepers (herders) are giving up their profession. Their historic lands for natural are either grabbed by the influential persons or secured from grazing at the name of nature conservation. One of the very alarming example is from the camel breeders of Rajastan India. The camel is really sinking and the population have gone down manifolds in last 3 decade. camel in Balochistan

The same is the situation in the Thal and Thar desert of Pakistan.

Conclusion

The time has reached to reconsider the existing policies regarding food and agriculture and give proper place and task to the native gene and its keeper to beat the challenge of food security in clime change context.

Alarming Facts about Desertification, Drought and Catastrophes

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Be among the first to know  12 February 2016

Hot off the press!
A new analysis issued by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) shows that 2015 – the hottest year on record – confirmed that weather and climate-related disasters now dominate disaster trends linked to natural hazards.

The analysis found that 98.6 million people were affected by disasters in 2015, and that climate – often aided by a strong El Niño phenomenon – was a factor in 92 per cent of those events.

2015 disaster facts and figures vs 2005-2014 averages

  • 32 major droughts recorded last year compared to an annual average of 15 over the previous decade.
  • Droughts affected 50.5 million people, well above the ten year average of 35.4 million.
  • Floods were in second place last year when 152 floods affected 27.5 million people and claimed 3,310 lives. This compares with the ten year average of 5,938 deaths and 85.1 million people affected.
  • Floods in India last year affected 16.4 million people.drought

Rising sea levels and sea surface temperatures were factors in a very active cyclone season in Asia and the Pacific which saw 37 cyclones and typhoons. Globally, there were:

  • 90 reported storms resulting in 996 deaths and affecting 10.6 million people. This compares with a ten year average of 17,778 deaths and 34.9 million people affected.

2015 was the hottest year on record and this contributed to a major loss of life from heatwaves, including a combined total of 7346 deaths: in France (3,275), India (2,248) and Pakistan (1,229).

  • Overall, 7,346 deaths were recorded and 1.2 million people were affected by extreme temperatures in 2015.
  • This compares with the ten year average of 7,232 deaths and 8.7 million affected.

Other statistics from 2015:

  • earthquakes and tsunamis killed 9,525 people (including Nepal) and affected 7.2 million;
  • landslides triggered by heavy rains, killed 1,369 people and affected 50,332;
  • wildfires took 66 lives and affected almost 495,000 people.

Read The press release  , have a look into the infographics on disaster trends  .The latest report, The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters demonstrates that :

  • Drought affects Africa more than any other continent, with EM-DAT recording 136 events there between 1995 and 2015 (some41% of the global total), including 77 droughts in East Africa alone.
  • Since the first UN climate change conference (COP1) in 1995, 606,000 lives have been lost and 4.1 billion people have been injured, left homeless or in need of emergency assistance as a result of weather-related disasters.
  • Urbanization has significantly increased flood run-offs, while recurrent flooding of agricultural and, particularly in Asia, has taken a heavy toll in terms of lost production, food shortages and rural under-nutrition.flood

Reducing the size of drought-vulnerable populations should be a global priority over the next decade; better accounting systems for indirect deaths from drought are also required; these should be linked to early warning systems and response mechanisms in order to monitor the impacts of drought more comprehensively. Learn more from the International Disaster Database EM DAT

RESILIENCE OF NATIVE LIVESTOCK BREEDS TO CLIMATE CHANGE

The globe is under stressful pressure of climate change. Droughts, erratic and unseasonal rains, floods, and rise in mercury are the salient features of climate change. Some regions are under the severe affects of climate change, i.e. Saharan & and horn Africa and South-east Asia. Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are under severe floods since last few decades and each year the intensity is even higher than the earlier. In 2010, Pakistan was adversely affected with the floods and this year again, the intensity of flood is severe and havoc losses are reported from different parts of the Indus delta. The crops, villages and settlements came under the flood water and heavy losses to livestock farms.

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Author with the camel keepers in Cholistan desert of Pakistan

 

Being involve and active in the livestock breeds, conservation and policies, I learnt great lesson for the floods and the climate change. Small-scaled farming, pastoral people and landless farmers with the native livestock breeds were either not effected at all or rarely affected. Their livestock is not tied/bound in farms. Their livestock can escape from floods with their own will and do not need farmer support. On the other hand large farms with the exotic poultry birds were severely affected and seldom saved alive. The same was the problem with the high yielding industrialized cattle breed (Frisian). The native livestock breeds can walk longer, swim in water, and resist feed and water shortage. If fresh water is not available, they can rely on muddy flood water.

Native livestock breeds can resist after shocks of the flood in a great way, as they are resistant to diseases and other challenges  They do not need special housing and can be adapted to any circumstances in a short period of time.  They are polite and nice outdoor animals and well familiar with the owner commands and in many cases understand the name given by the owner. Camel and buffalo are unique of its kind in such situation. Such livestock breeds and their production potential are the real asset of the affected people. The native livestock is not only an asset for owner but a good producer of food item in such a harsh conditions. 

Such livestock breeds and production systems needs policy support and demand for strengthening and conservation. In the present situation as FAO is promoting the concept of global agenda of  action for sustainable livestock development and a multi-stake holders meeting is going to held (15-17 January 2013, Nairobi, Kenya), it is paramount need of time to consider the role of small/landless livestock keepers and pastoral livestock keepers. The policies void of their support cannot be fruitful. The recommendations proposed as the outcome of the livestock futures conference in Bonn, Germany are well explained and practical to take the small scale livestock keepers on board. 

Further reading:

http://www.livestockdialogue.org/

http://saves.org.pk/site/pub/29.pdf

http://www.rural21.com/english/news/detail/article/livestock-futures-conference-about-powerlessness-and-hope-0000466/

Camel, an incredible creature in difficult environment

English: Dromedary camel in outback Australia,...
English: Dromedary camel in outback Australia, near Silverton, NSW. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Camel, an incredible creature in difficult environment.

REGIONAL COOPERATION! An Approach for Camel Advocacy

Abstract
Camel is a precious animal genetic resource of drylands and harsh ecosystems of the globe. The camel is highly adapted to the difficult and hostile environment of its habitat. It also produces precious products, especially milk in a very low or even zero input production system. Such ecosystems and low input production model are highly hostile to other domestic animals and difficult for survival, especially the exotic breeds.
Camel has a unique physiology enabling it to survive in such hostile conditions. Feed and water scarcity is the salient feature of the regional ecosystems, minimizing our choices for other livestock production. Such conditions enforce us to work on a camel and transform it into a good farm machine rather a beast of burden. We have rare opportunities and camel is the best choice to use as a tool to beat food security challenge in the climate change scenario. Camel! A One in All Creatures
The production traits are highly variable, especially milk production which ranges from 4 to 40 kg/day. The camel products – especially the milk – are unique and of high quality. The camel milk is now well accepted for its worth at international levels. Many efforts are underway to promote camel milk. Camel dairying is getting popularity and its products are highly demanded health and wellbeing.
More than 90% of the camel in the region are kept and reared by the pastoral communities. The production system is based on open grazing and mobile herding. Pastoral peoples and other camel keepers carry the entire burden of preserving the camel for the future. They face severe difficulties due to climate change, feed and water scarcity, restriction to grazing lands, faulty livestock policies and other man-made consequences. The number of camels is declining and camel breeds are at risk of extinction, especially in this region. Scientific work on the camel is often not connected to and relevant for the camel keepers.
However, every cloud has a silver lining. The regional (Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan) camel community (scientists, breeders, and policymakers) can work for joint projects. Camel association can be organized at national levels in each country and can fabricate a regional cooperation for camel development. Camel friends need to work together and share ideas and support each other. The message about the diversity and capacity of the camel can then reach the policymakers.
As a first attempt, a review committee to review camel productions and possibilities for future development is urgent and requires pooling of available data on the camel in a systematic and uniform manner. Such committee can work on the compilation of the work done already and can give the idea for future research and development on a camel.
Keywords: future, global, joint, policy, review, camel

The camel is a  food Security Animal in Climate Change Scenario

Camel is well in position to beat the challenge of food security in the climate change context. Camel produces milk and meat for human consumption. Camel meat is praised for its good quality, especially if it is derived from the calf. The major meat contents i.e. moisture, protein, fat, and ash are reported as 71, 21.4, 4.4 and 1.1% respectively (Kadim and Mahgoub, 2006). Camels are good potential meat producers especially in arid regions where other meat-producing animals do not thrive. Camel meat, especially from young animals, contains low fat with low cholesterol as well as being a good source of amino acids and minerals.

Many factors drive the slaughtering rate of the camel. Though camel meat is preferred in some countries, but not often slaughtered due to high prices and slow herd growth rate. Camel is mainly slaughtered on special occasions, like festival, wedding, mourning, physical damage to the animal, for preying and the arrival of guests (Mehari et al, 2007). But in recent times, the camel meat is attracted many people in the Middle East and the number of camel slaughtering is increasing. Such trend resulting in camel decline in the horn of Africa and Sub-continent.

Camel milk is the major and special product for human consumption. Camel was originally domesticated for milk following the move to use as a beast of a burden, especially for armies. (Raziq et al, 2008). 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 areas. The camel produces in harsh and hostile conditions where another animal may not survive. A camel 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. 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 (Schwartz and Dioli, 1992).
Globally camel produces about 2 % of the world total milk and that milk is mostly produced by pastoral people and consumed locally (Raziq et al, 2008). The camel sustains its productivity in difficult conditions and comparatively lesser affected by the adverse factors like lack of feed, water, season and length of lactation (Raziq et al, 2011).Pashtoon nomads and camel

Production, pastoralism, and conservation
Camel production is still switched to nomadic and semi-nomadic people. Camel plays the role as the tool of survival in arid and semi-arid lands of the earth. Camel is crucial for the livelihood earning of such communities and ensure their food security. As a consequence of the climate change and drought, some cattle pastoralists substituted cattle with the camel to ensure the existence of the drought conditions. A new phenomenon of camel dairying is getting popularity and increases, though the growth is not appealing yet. The efforts of last decade like that in Mauritania (Tvisky), Kenya, India, and the UAE (Alain Dairy and Camelicious) are now following the newly camel dairying, especially in the Middle East.
Pastoralism safeguards conservation and development (evolution) of camel genetic resources in the world. The pastoral people developed and evolved specialized breeds of livestock for food and agriculture and camel is the one among them. Camel herders evolved the present day’s breed with the continuous selection for fitness and survival traits with the help of their indigenous knowledge in the long run of history. Such efforts resulted in the well-adapted genetic resources for food and agriculture, which can survive in harsh and hostile conditions (Köhler-Rollefson, 2005). Hence efforts for conservation and sustainable use of camel, the role of pastoral people cannot be neglected.Camel Barbering Sindh Pakistan

Regional cooperation
Camel can be the solution for many difficult questions, i.e. climate change, drought and food security, especially for the region like ours. Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan are under the severe threat of many challenges like water and feed scarcity, climate calamities, deforestation etc. In such conditions, the importance of well-adapted livestock species like camel increases manifolds. Unfortunately, camel erosion is a challenge in the region. There are many reasons for this decline, all are manmade. Camel is being neglected in research and development sectors of the region and no integrated efforts had been made to address camel issues. The camel conference of Mashhad can be a milestone for a regional cooperation and development of camel R&D in the region. As a beginning, universities, research institutions, and breeders communities can initiate camel cooperation which can proceed at ministries levels in the days coming.
A committee of scientists can be organized here at the end of the conference to make a comprehensive report on the present situation of the camel in the region, i.e. population, breeds, trends, communities, utilities etc and also to review the research work already performed and published. The committee will point out the gaps in the research area and will suggest research work to the universities and institutions. The committee can collaborate with the international camelid organization, especially ISOCARD to ease its work and broaden the horizon of camel research and development.
We have announced an international camel conference in Pakistan next year under the patronage of the camel association of Pakistan (CAP). The committee may have a meeting at such occasion and can discuss its progress and future plans.

brahvi-breed

Conclusion
Camel can be a tool to combat desertification and to fight the calamities of climate change. Camel ensures food security in the arid ecosystems of our region. Unfortunately, camel is under threat and still neglected among the R & D sector of our national governments. A regional cooperation and coordination can be a silver lining in the cloud. Cooperation among the universities, camel herders, pastoralists and other stakeholders can bring cool breeze in the camel world of the region.

References

  1. Bengoumi M. and Faye B., 2002. Adaptation du dromadaire à la déshydratation. Sécheresse. 13 (2) 121-129.
  2. Bengoumi M., Riad F., Giry J., De La Farge F., Safwate A., Davicco M.J and Barlet J.P, 1993. Hormonal Control of Water and Sodium in Plasma and Urine of Camels during Dehydration and Rehydration. General and Comparative endocrinology. 89: 378-386.
  3. Hjört af Ornäs A . and M. Ali Hussein, 1993.Camel herd dynamics in southern Somalia: long term development and milk production implications. . In: A. Hjort af Ornäs (Ed.),The multipurpose camel: interdisciplinary studies on pastoral production in Somalia., EPOS, Uppsala University, Sweden, 31-42
  4. Kadim, I.T. and O. Mahgoub. 2006. Meat quality and composition of Longissimus thoracis from Arabian Camel (Camelus dromedaries) and Omani beef: A comparative study. In: First conference of the international society of Camelids research and development (ISOCARD) (pp. 118).
  5. Köhler-Rollefson, I. 2005a. Building an International Legal Framework on Animal Genetic Resources Can it help the drylands and food-insecure countries? LPP. http://www.pastoralpeoples.org/docs/int_legal_framework_an_gen_res.pdf
  6. Mehari, Y., Z. Mekuriaw and G. Gebru. 2007. Camel and camel product marketing in Babilie and Kebribeyah woredas of the Jijiga zone, Somali region, Ethiopia. Livestock Research for Rural Development 19 (4).
  7. Raziq A, M. Younas, M.S. Khan and I. Iqbal. 2011. Milk production potential as affected by parity and age of the Kohi dromedary camel. J. Camel Pract. Res. 17(2): 1-4.
  8. Raziq, A., M. Younas and M.A. Kakar. 2008. Camel~ A potential dairy animal in difficult environments. Pak. J. Agri. Sci. 45(2): 263-267.
  9. Schwartz, H.J. and M. Dioli. 1992. The one-humped Camel in Eastern Africa. A pictorial guide to diseases, health care and management. Verlag Josef Margraf, Scientific Books PO Box 105 D 6992, Weikersheim, FR Germany.
  10. Yagil R., 1993. Renal function and water metabolism in the dromedary. Moving Points in Nephrology Contrib. Nephrol. Basel, Karger. 102 :161-170.