International Camel Conference at Islamia University Bahawalpur Pakistan

The International Camel Conference (ICC) under the patronage of Camel Association of Pakistan and the Islamia University of Bahawalpur was organized in Baghdad campus of Islamia University (19-21 Dec 2013). Bahawalpur being the city of the great Thar desert and home of camel culture was the right choice for this event. Many scientists, research scholars, camel herders and students from different universities and institutions participated in this important event on the camel. Many animal scientists, students and camel herders from Balochistan province also participated.

Marrecha camel safari caravan passing nearby the Dirawarr Forte
Camel is the unique heritage of the region Cholistan

FAO Balochistan chapter sponsored a group of camel herders and L&DD officials to participate in the conference. The conference was very versatile of its nature, not only covered the camel science but provided a good opportunity to camel people to know about the camel culture of great Thar desert which is famously known as the Cholistan. The vice-chancellor of the IslamiUniversityty (Dr Iftikhar) was very kind and humble while providing all the best facilities and opportunities to the conference participants. Camel scientists from 7 different countries also participated.The Desert’s Livestock Species Have Tremendous Potential for Milk Produciton

Image

The scientists presented their work on camel culture, milk production potential, milk characteristics, camel breeds and breeding, diseases and economic opportunities etc. The local media covered the event in a very nice way and kept the country audience and viewers aware regarding the conference. At the end of the camel conference, the following recommendations were suggested.

  • To maintain camel genetic and production diversity with the involvement of the camel herders and policymakers
  • To maintain camel habitats, especially Cholistan desert intact and safe from land grabbing etc
  • The slogan of ‘DESERT SHOULD REMAIN THE DESERT‘ was given for Eco-conservation of Camels and ‘SAVE PASTROLISM
  • More interaction development among the camel people, camel scientists and policymakers should initiate
  • Research on camel diseases and other health issues should initiate and coordinate with the international bodies in this field
  • Publication of full-length articles of the abstracts received in ICC-2013 in a peer-reviewed journal
  • Industry Liaison for Value Addition of camel products
  • Enhanced collaboration with foreign camel researchers and institute

IMG_2082[1].jpgCamel conference was a great opportunity, except the bad weather with the heavy fog. At the end of the conference, the meeting of the CAP was organized and some decisions were made. The decisions of the CAP are given in the ensuing lines.

  • The foreign scientist (not more than 5) will be invited purely on merit basis to make it more worthwhile and fruitful
  • The meeting was held on 21st Dec at 8 pm
  • I suggested a seminar (with very specific title) and with very specific number of participants
  • The seminar will be in the month of Jan or Feb 2015, as the next ISOCARD is in June 2015 Almatay Kazakhstan
  • The venue of the meeting will be decided later but most probably, Karachi, Uthal, Quetta or Lahore
  • CAP member list will be compiled according to the registered members in 3 categories, i.e.
  1. category A. Scientist/Activist/NGOs
  2. Category B. Camel Herders
  3. Category C. Students
  • Next election will be held on the occasion of the Seminar in 2015
  • The CAP registration amount, other income and expenditure if any, will be compiled and will be present to the cabinet
  • A Skype/online consultative meeting of the willing CAP members or other scientists to highlight/fix and mention the priority areas on camel in Pakistan

I am very pleased now, as the importance of camel is being appreciated in Pakistan. In the climate change context and challenge of food security; camel is the best choice to accept these challenges.

Value of Bicultural Protocols for the Concerened Communities

Value of Bicultural Protocols for the Concerened Communities

Biocultural community protocol (BCP) is the documentation of bio-assets, prodution systems, history, heritage, traditional knowledge (TK), landscape, culture and products of the relevant community. BCP empowers communities and giving voice to local/native communities, especially pastorlaists  (In line with rights-based policy). It develop awareness about culture, value and tradition to address challenges (cross breeding, producst/innovations). Also it helps in awareness about the rights of the communities, i.e. grazing, breeding and political rights etc. It is a good tool of information exchange, communication to other stakeholders and linking different communities.

Process of BCP

Community initiates and owns BCP. Then Invites others stakeholders if appropriate, aim for government reconition and follow up if applicable. The shephards, traditional philosophers, elders, healers and other stakeholders are taken on board in this process. The pastoralists BCP is mainly focus on genetic resources for food and agriculture and grazing lands.

For further reading:

http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/G03404.pdf

http://saves.org.pk/site/pub/401.pdf

http://www.pastoralpeoples.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Presentation-Abdul-Raziq.pdf

http://www.pastoralpeoples.org/docs/BCP_for_livestock_keepers_web.pdf

http://naturaljustice.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/BCP-Toolkit–final-online-version-(1).pdf

WORLD DONKEY DAY

 

Henderson and the donkey
Henderson and the donkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WORLD DONKEY DAY

World donkey day was celebrated worldwide.

League for Pastoral People

League for Pastoral People

League for pastoral people strives for the conservation of pastoralism. 

 

Issues of the interest

What is the problem?

About 70% of the world’s one billion poor people – defined as those living on less than US$ 1.25 per day – are partially or totally dependent on livestock. Farm animals generate cash income, but also food, fibre, fuel, fertilizer and traction; they act as a ‘bank on hooves’ and medium of exchange for maintaining social relationships. On top of these many essential functions and services that livestock provide, they are also self-replicating. In many respects, livestock is an ideal asset, even more crucial and useful than money for poor people.

Smallholders and pastoralists. For many smallholders livestock is just one component of a more multi-faceted livelihood strategy. But for pastoralists with their long heritage of livestock keeping, herds of animals are their only material asset, besides their often rich traditional knowledge and local institutions that enable them to make use of marginal environments.

Mainstream livestock development. promotes a model of livestock production in which only the output of one product (usually milk, but also wool or meat) counts. In the process, locally adapted breeds are replaced by exotics which require purchased feed and other inputs, while also being susceptible to diseases and not being able to fulfil a multi-functional role. On the other hand, more fundamental issues for the survival and well-being of livestock keepers, such as secure access to common property resources, affordable and reliable animal health care, political empowerment as well as value chains for local products are ignored.

Factory farms take over… While support for small-scale livestock keepers has failed, industrial animal production has been conquering much of the globe. Originating in North America, the so-called “Livestock Revolution” has spread to Europe and much of Asia, and is now anticipated for Africa. This phenomenon entails not only huge industrial production units, but also a change in ownership structures: family owned farms are replaced by “integrated” set-ups in which the whole value chain – from animal feed and inputs to the final food product – is controlled by a few large multinational companies. In essence, small and medium-sized livestock producers who raise animals in a sustainable and usually fairly humane way, making use of local resources, are being forced out of business throughout the world.

Support factors for the corporate take-over of livestock rearing include: large subsidies for industrial producers; the current world trade system which pits producers in distant places against each other, making the margin per animal very low; the low status and reputation of livestock keeping as a career and, finally a paradigm about livestock development, held by scientists and policy makers, that only considers the output of products and ignores the huge externalities.

Impacts of the Livestock Revolution

  • The amassment of huge numbers of animals in a single production unit creates ideal conditions for the outbreak of epidemic diseases, requiring the routine use of antibiotics. When diseases do break out – as in the cases of bird flu, swine flu, and others – they often quickly spread around the globe, creating enormous costs that are borne by the tax payer.
  • This type of production is extremely energy intensive and depends on huge inputs of fossil fuels, industrial fertilizers, and other synthetic chemicals. Intensive livestock production is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.
  • The amassment of animals leads to an accumulation of their wastes, which pollute both air and water.
  • Animal welfare is a huge concern.
  • The system is vulnerable to shocks and puts long-term food security at a peril since it utilizes mono-cultures of both feed crops (maize and soy) and livestock (whose genes are also owned by companies).
  • The automated production units eliminate rural jobs, leading to a rural exodus. This has enormous implications for rural livestock keepers: in the US rural poverty is higher in areas where industrial production sites are located.

What is the solution?

Instead of amassing animals in huge factories, we need to decentralise livestock so that they can make use of local resources, including crop waste products and the scattered vegetation in marginal areas, such as deserts and mountainous zones. This approach hinges on the commitment, knowledge and expertise of livestock keepers, especially those who have a cultural tradition of animal rearing, such as pastoralists. For a sustainable future of the planet, we need to acknowledge and reward the role of such livestock keepers in the conservation of biological diversity, in contributing to food security and providing healthy food. This must be done by providing them with secure access to grazing areas and with services, market opportunities (fair prices and infrastructure), as well as access to appropriate education.

Society of Animal, Veterinary and Environmental Scientists (SAVES)

Society of Animal, Veterinary and Environmental Scientists (SAVES)

Animal Genetic Resources (AnGR) are crucial for livelihood in the drylands of the world. The pastoral people are the custodians of the AnGR in difficult environment of drylands. AnGR are the building blocks for future livestock development that will enable animal producers to respond to environmental changes. The ability of indigenous/pastoral livestock breeds to survive natural calamities (droughts, climatic extremes and diseases) is necessarily more important than high productivity. Such animals are generally close to their wild ancestors, enabling them to resist diseases and feed & water scarcity. The need of modern veterinary care is thus limited. Unfortunately the State of the World Report on AnGR predicted that 20% of livestock breeds are at risk of extinction and the average breed loss is 1 breed per month. The pastoral livestock breeds are more prone to this erosion. These issues demanded efforts to bring them in the minds of scientists and policy makers.

In 2005, the like-minded scientists organized the SAVES. Originally it was a Pakistani society, soon many international friends and scientists joined it. Now it is an international society.

Objectives

  • Conservation of AnGR and Indigenous knowledge through the strengthening of the pastoral peoples
  • Characterization and documentation of AnGR with the perspectives of the livestock keepers
  • Documentation and validation of the Indigenous knowledge with the participation of the communities
  • Research projects on the pastoral livestock production systems, products, culture and ecosystems
  • Value additions to the local livestock products for the wellbeing of the livestock keepers and conservation of the breeds
Tools

  • Livestock keepers rights (LKR)
  • Community Bio-cultural Protocols (BCP)
  • Mobilization and organization of the livestock keepers

http://www.saves.org.pk

Marrecha Camel passing by the Draban forte in Cholistan desert of Pakistan

Camel is not just a source of earning livelihood and food security but a main player in cultural and recreational goodwill of the camel’s pastoralists in its habitats. In Pakistan, camel is being enjoyed for many recreational purposes but dancing is one of the most important and unique event, especially among Marrecha camel paternalists. The Marrecha camels’ pastoralists are very fond of camel dancing and practice annual events to share the performance of their elite camels. According to Marrecha pastoralits, their camels are the best in learning dancing and even other commands. They define their camels as obedient & humble and good in learning different commands. Marrecha camel quickly learn dancing, riding/racing in desert and even working commands in the agricultural fields and densely populated cities’ street. This breed of this camel is highly liked by the people of Cholistan and its adjoining areas for accessibility in desert, beauty of gesture and good learning ability. To read more about Marrecha camel and Cholistan please click the links below;

https://camel4all.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/marrecha-camel-of-cholistan-desert/

http://www.pastoralismjournal.com/content/1/1/3

Camel passing by the Draban forte in Cholistan desert of Pakistan

The title of the photo is self explained.

Land grabbing and Restrictions to Pastoralism in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is one of the important countries of the dryland region of the world. Afghanistan is home and cradle of precious livestock breeds. The old civilization of zoroaster domesticated the present day bactrian camel in the ancient city of Bakhtria in Afghanistan. Afghanistan places precious and well adapted livestock breeds with very touchy livestock culture and home of nomads (Kochis).

Kochis or pastoralists having diversity of livestock species and breeds. They are the custodian of such precious animal genetic resources and guardian of the rich culture of nomadism.

Afghanistan being the land of wars and conflicts, now new and modern problems and conflicts area arising in the country. Because of the wars, there were restriction of the nomads movement with their livestock in some parts of the country.  Now arable farmers and warlords are grabbing the land for construction and high input agriculture production which further restrict the movement of livestock.

Nomadism is very important for livestock and flora diversity. Restriction affects the livestock production systems of the Kochis very negatively. Such phenomenon, i.e. land grabbing is further harmful for livestock biodiversity.

It is the utmost need of time to give attention to this issue and save pastoralism and their precious livestock breeds and culture. I hereby appeal international organizations like FAO to facilitate nomadism in Afghanistan and resist land grabbing and restriction of livestock movement of the nomads or Kochis.

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.

 

two-type-of-kohi-camel.jpg
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.

Investments in pastoralism offer best hope for combating droughts in Africa’s drylands

Investments in pastoralism offer best hope for combating droughts in Africa’s drylands.

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.