World Camels’ Day and The Ghan’s Camels

Being part of the Ghans, it gives me immense pleasure having pictures of camels from Australia. The Afghan people introduced camel in Australia, so they call it animal of Ghan. Ghan is also very famous train route crossing the central desert of Australia. The camels were used that time to install the railway and telephone lines. After the automobile revolution, the camels were gradually left in the rangelands because of very little use in the country for work.

Australia Camel gift WCD.
The camel looks like Kohi camel of Suleiman Mountainous region of Pakistan.
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Kohi camel of Suleiman Mountainous region of Pakistan

Once the Australian government decided to decrease the number of camels and started killing this precious animals.. With the concerns of the international camel community (author was part of this struggle), some people and organizations came forward to bring this animal into hobbling and food production systems (meat and milk). My friend Paul has sent me the pictures of his camels brought from the jungle. He is bringing camels from feral, train them and use for milk or gift to friends. Thanks Pol for such a precious gift at the eve of the World Camel Day (22 June).

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Mammoth sized camel of Australia, can be a good source of meat

Thanks Pol and Happy Camel Day to all camel lovers

Camel Fairs in Pakistan: A Case Study from Mangrota of Pakistan

Camel plays a very pivotal role in the life of the people of the northeastern Balochistan (Suleiman  mountainous region). The camel herders graze their camel herds all around the year on the woody vegetation of the mountains and in the month of October, they separate the camels ready for sale. The ready for sale animals are then moved to Mangrota camel fair. Mangrota camel fair is very famous among the camel breeders and is the main market for their camels. Mangrota is the town of Tehsil Taunsa, Dera Ghazi Khan (D.G.Khan) district of the Punjab province, Pakistan. The Mangrota camel Mela is held every year in the month of October and is the largest event of the year for the pastorals and traders of the region. The camels brought are predominantly white in color and are known as Kohi camel. These camels are mostly brought from the Suleiman Mountains and the adjoining areas. Mostly mature well-developed males of age more than 5 years are brought, but some cow camels and immature male and female are also brought.

The male matured draught animals acquire by the people of the high mountains for downloading timber wood, vegetables and the old and sick populace down to the roadsides or nearby towns. They carry their daily requirements by loading on camels to the peaks of the mountains where they live. These camels are moved from Mangrota camel Mela both on foot and by loading in trucks to Swat, Dir, Dera Ismail Khan (D.I Khan), Tribal areas & other parts of the NWFP province and some may reach to Afghanistan.Camels in Magrota

Location & History of Mangrota Fair
Mangrota is a town of Tehsil Taunsa, Dera Ghazi Khan (D.G.Khan) district of the Punjab province, Pakistan. Mangrota is situated at the terminal of the piedmont of Suleiman Mountain eastward. According to some elders and, Mela was previously called as Dosera, which was being held regularly at 16-23 October of each year. The Mela was purely a religious event of Hindu people before partition. Those times the camel was being used for bringing the Hindu families to the Mela place mainly on camel back, donkeys, and horses. A lot of camel, donkeys, and horses were being gathered at one place and the Mela gradually got importance as camel and other draught animal’s bazaar. After partition, the religious importance of the Mela diminished and the marketing importance still exists. The Mela is interesting for the camel herders, traders, businessmen, local healers of camel and other related people. Now the Mela has been declared as Camel Mela officially.Mangrota Camel Fair

Number and type of animals
Mela is for the camel but horses and donkeys are also brought. An increasing trend in the number of donkeys and horses has been observed. Camel comes here range from 8,000 to 10,000 every year. In the year 2006, the camel number was comparatively lesser than previous years due to the trouble in Maree and Bugti hills of Suleiman Mountains. The causes of the lesser number of traders participation were the rumors that this year the Mela will not be held because of the trouble in the Maree and Bugti area and the because of the month of Ramazan. In the year 2007, the camel number was higher than 2006 but the traders were lesser, because of the uncertainty in the Northern tribal area, where the majority of the camel goes.

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Business and Marketing System
The contract of the Mela is auctioned by D.G. Khan Municipal Corporation each year and contractor of the Mela charges 5 % of the cost of camel, which is paid by both the supplier and buyer or only one party pay the whole tax depending on the bargain. If someone found selling or buying an animal without paying the tax, will be punished eleven times of the actual tax. Broker charges of Rs. 400/ on each bargain (200 from each party) on the camel and a broker can make up to 25 bargains in a day. The traders paying for a camel.

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Camel working in rug mountains of Suleiman

Camel working in rug mountains of Suleiman

Camel is the well adapted animal in Suleiman mountain for work in hostile topography of the region. The leaves of a bush are loaded on camel. These leaves are use for ropes and mat knitting. Such mats are use by the camel pastoralists for housing/huts buildings.

Kohi camel of Musakhel~ Balochistan Pakistan

Kohi camel of Musakhel~ Balochistan Pakistan

Kohi camel is highly adapted to the mountainous ecology of Suleiman Mountainous Region. The breeds is highly diversified and there are many shades and colours. Some colours and phenotypic characters works as genetic markers and the pastoral people are well known of them

Kohi Camel Breed of Suleiman Mountainous Region

Kohi

Kohi camel is predominantly found in Suleiman mountainous region of Balochistan, Pashtoonkhua and Punjab provinces of the country. Some specimens are also found in the Paktia province of Afghanistan. But 70% of the breed is found in the Balochistan province.

 Production systems and socioeconomic importance

There are three major camel production systems in this region viz; nomadic, transhumant or semi-nomadic and sedentary. Socio-economic importance of camel is closely associated with existed production systems. These systems are largely determined by climatic conditions, a topography of the land, plant growth phenology, water sources, etc. As the camels are always on the move, they hardly spend more than one month at one place.

The Kohi camel plays a pivotal role in the socio-economic activities of the region. It is used in the high mountains of Suleiman mountainous series for the transportation of various items. The animal is well fit for work in that hilly land and the broad wide cannon bone make it well to do in that habitat. Camel is also used for the pastoral migration and milk production. Mangrota camel fair is one of the largest camel’s socioeconomic and cultural activities of the camel herders of Kohi breed. The herders manage camel movement and migration pattern according to the onset of the fair. 

Population size and trend

The Kohi camel breed is one of the major camel breeds in the country. This breed is found in the other provinces of the country also. The estimated number of this breed in Balochistan province is almost 70,000 head. This breed still has the importance for transportation and milk are the byproducts, nevertheless, it produces an average of 10 liters of milk per day. The breed is growing and there is no threat to the population of Kohi camel, though the ecosystem of the breed is under threat.

 

Breeding goal of the breed

One of the major breeding goals is the production of vigorous and compact animal for work in the mountainous region. The breeders select usually male camel and there is no choice for female. All the females are being bred, as the breeders believe that male animal play role in the breeding of the camel. Milk production is the second major breeding goal because more milk is the security for the healthier calves and ultimately production of the vigorous camel. The other traits of selection are the white color, beautiful muzzle, curly wool, strong wide cannon bone and wide chest.

Special traits of the breed

  • Compact body, strong hindquarter, wide cannon bones and strong foot pad making it specially fit for mountainous ecology
  • Survival in cold weather without housing
  • Browsing in the small area when vegetation is available (easy care and accessible)
  • White nails and yellowish eye color
  • More weight per unit body area (Compact)
  • Highly resistant to diseases locally called as syed
  • Its white color is the phenotypic marker for more milk yield
  • The animal is very loyal and loving to the owners

 Phenotypic characteristics

The Kohi camel is predominantly white in coat color but some animals locally are known as Spole color (light brown with white legs) are also found. The Kohi camel has white nailed either it is white or Spole coat color.  The animal has a compact body, wide cannon bone, big beefy head and short neck. The herders believe that the white color of Kohi camel produces more milk than Spole (brown body white forelegs) animal and a part of this study proved it valid. The phenotypic characteristics of the breed are presented in table 9.

 

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The 2 lines of Kohi camel, the white Kohi and the Spole Kohi

 

Reproductive and productive performance

The male is ready for breeding at the 4 years of age and female reaches to the time of mating at the age of 3 years. About 50 she-camels are normally bred by one bull camel. While the service period remains for 6 days and estrus cycle ranging from one week to 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 comes 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 a camel is higher with appreciable calving percentage and rare abortion. A weight of the calf at the birth is almost 35-45 kg, depending upon the sex, nutritional and health status of the dam. Weaning weight at (9 months) is about 155-180 kg. The reproductive and productive characteristics of the Kohi camel.

 

Table Biometric parameters of the Kohi breed

Body measurements Male Female Mean
Head length 42.23 34.16 38.20
Head width 22.60 20 21.3
w.H 176.61 176.13 176.37
T.G 206 207.86 206.93
A.G 234.15 241.5 237.825
TL 50.88 48.10 49.49
EL 12.04 11.77 11.905
EW 6.63 6.99 6.81
NL 88.85 86.18 87.515
BL 140 141.25 140.63
Est. wt 440.69 439.30 439.995

Table Reproductive and productive and traits of the Kohi Camel

No Traits Values
Male Female
1 Average birth Weight 32 – 40 kg 31 – 40 kg
2 Average weaning Weight* 160 – 185 kg 155 – 180 kg
5 Ready for workload 3 yr 3 yr
7 Use for heavy duty 7-8 yr
8 Age of puberty 4 yr 3 yr
9 Average work-life 25 yr
10 Average reproductive life 25 ye 21 yr
11 Conception rate out of herd 50-53%
12 Gestation  period 375-386 day
13 Calving rate out of herd 45-50%
14 Calving interval 2 yr
15 Average milk production 10.7 kg/day
16 Lactation length 8-11 month
17 Wool Production 2.5 kg

Marketing and future economic potential

The animals are grazing in uplands of Suleiman region since March to the end of the September and after that, the animals who ready for sale are moved to the (male) fair of Mangrota, while rest of the animals are moved to the lowlands of Suleiman region and the adjoining areas of Sibi region, where they spend the autumn and winter season. Mangrota animal fair is the biggest of the area and the biggest sale point for the Camels.

The Kohi camel has very good economic potential in future. The camel meat has good taste because of the nature of the vegetation browsed. The Kohi meat is already famous in the pastoral families and has very good potential for export.