Tag Archives: research

Plants that are Liked such as Icecream by the Camels. Part 2

Camel and goats like the salty and spiny species of plants. Such plants are also called ice cream species for camel and goats. In part 1, we discussed the fodder trees which are very much liked by the camels and goats. Here the bushes species will be briefly discussed along with the pictures.The Ice Cream Species of Plants for the Camel and Goat. Part 1

1. Leptadenia pyrotechnica (Marakh as local Arabic name, Bararra in Pashtu)

It is widespread from Africa, the Arabian peninsula to South Asia. The camel likes it very much because of its taste and flavor. When lush, it has higher contents of CP.

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The fiber of the plant is used for the treatment of gout and rheumatism

One picture tells different and multidimensional stories. Markh (Leptadenia) plant playing a multipurpose role, from halting creeping sand, provides shelter to insects, soil conservation to the camel food. The camels browse this Ice cream species of plant.

Marakh is a multipurpose plant, use for different aspects as well as food. I have started a new series of short films on the ice cream species of plants. The link to the video channel about the March plant is given below. Camel Icecream spp Marakh or Boom Bush (Leptadenia pyrotechnica)

22xBroom Bush

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The flowers are edible

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The bush is also considered as diuretic both in human and animals. Some camel keepers offer Markh to the male camel when they have urine obstruction problem. We the Pashtun people make chewing gum from this plant.

leptadenia pyrotechnica

A ticket of 50 fils by UAE government to endorse the role of this precious plant in the country

2. Zygophyllum (Zygophyllum qatarense)

A salt-tolerant plant of the Arabian Peninsula that grows as a rounded, dwarf shrub. In adaptation to retaining water in its saline environment, it has small compact leaves that are rather fleshy and succulent. The camel loves this plant because of 2 main reasons, the i.e. rich source of water and providing abundant salts.

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The plant is the real ice cream species for camel and goat. The only thing camel need in the hot dry environment of the region are the water and the salts and the plant is rich in these 2 nutrients.

Zygophyllum qatarense is a salt-tolerant plant of the Arabian Peninsula

Pharmacological Action and Toxicity

  • Diuretic and antipyretic
  • Anti-histamine activity
  • Healing constipation
  • The juice from fresh leaves and stems is used for the treatment of certain skin diseases
  • For lowering of blood pressure

The Ice Cream Species of Plants for the Camel and Goat. Part 1

A Beautiful Camel Heritage is Sinking

IMG_0537A precious camel heritage of Marrecha in Cholistan desert is at risk. This brief study tells, how this beautiful culture is eroding because of the negligence of the policymakers. It is very crucial to involve the native livestock keepers in policies regarding research and development of the region but unfortunately, it is happening the otherwise. ♠♠♠♥♥

Where is the Cholistan Desert?

Having seen many deserts of the world, I’m quite sure that Cholistan desert is one of the most beautiful and living deserts of the world. No doubt, it is a desert but acts as a food bucket (animal origin) for the country since ages.  The commune of the Cholistan is called Rohila and the tribe rearing camel is called Marrecha. This cherished desert is situated in the South–West of Punjab province (Pakistan) and is spread over an area of 26,000 square kilometers. It is located between latitudes of 27° to 42° and 29°N and longitude of 57° to 60°E. The length of the desert is about 480 Km and breadth is from 32 to 192 Km.

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The map of the Cholistan desert

The Ecosystems and the Camel Adaptation

The Pakistani camel breeds are highly diversified at inter and intra breed basis Rapid change of strategy is necessary for development of dromedary camel pastoralism in the Cholistan desert of Pakistan and found in different ecological zones of the country. Each breed/type has its own uniqueness and usefulness based on the breeding goals of the relevant breeding community. Cholistani pastoralists (Rohila or Marreche) predominantly keep the highly adapted desert camel Marrecha (gets its name from Marrecha tribe). The Marrecha breeders have their own native wisdom and knowledge of conservation and management of animal genetic resources.

The Marrecha Camel

The Marrecha breeders have their own native wisdom and knowledge of conservation and management of animal genetic resources. The Marrecha commune living in the deep desert works as an institution, treasured with precious knowledge of the ecosystems, available natural resources, especially vegetation, biological and natural health, animal breeding and survival and resilience in climate change scenario.

 

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The caravan of Marrecha camels passing by the Killa Dirawar

 

The Marreche Institutions and the Camel Genetic Resources 

The Marreche breeders are color sensitive as in the other parts of the world. They only consider a camel Marrecha if it has coat color from sandy, blackish brown to light brown. CAMEL REARING IN CHOLISTAN DESERT OF PAKISTAN. The pastoralists have a very clear stance on the breeds and the special traits which they use as their basic breeding goals.DSC04312.JPG

Marrecha herders’ top priority (breeding goal) is to produce pack camels for transportation of goods and families in the desert. They consider the hardiness, intelligence, and obedience as important but special traits for their camels. Along with the special traits, they use phenotypic traits as the markers of the genetic potential and adaptation to the deserted ecosystem.  These animals are lightly built, medium sized with a medium head which is carried on a lean long beautifully curved neck Dancing Marrecha Camel of Cholistan Pakistan.  Some of the phenotypic traits are listed below.DSC04311.JPG

  1. The flat and wide foot pad (walking ability in desert)
  2. The mouth is small with tight lips
  3. prominent round bright eyes, and narrow muzzle
  4. Long eyelashes and long hair on the ears and neck
  5. lean long beautifully curved neck covered with long hair
  6. small ear (Rabbit like) with dense air like brush
  7. The legs are thinner but strong, fine and well shaped
  8. the cylindrical body
  9. Medium head with a protruded nose

Marrecha camel

The Output Potential and the Worth of the Marrecha Camel

  • As a riding/packed Animal: Marrecha camels are fine, fast and gracious looking, so they are called the riding camels.  Marrecha can travel from 100 to 125 Km/ day at a high speed of 20-25 Km per hour. As a pack animal, it can transport 300 to 400 kg weight and can travel up to 50 km/day.
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  • As a Milk Animal: Milk production is the secondary job of the Marrecha camel. Because of its highly adapted nature, it produces milk in harsh conditions with high ambient temperatures and scarcity of feed and water. These characteristics of the Marrecha camel enable camel herders to live and stay deep in the desert and depend on the camel milk for food. The Marrecha pastoralists have an average herd size of 37 camels, majority female (20-25% lactating camels) Marrecha camel of Cholistan Desert. A good Marrecha camel can produce up to 10 milk/day and produces up to 250 days in the ordinary grazing management in the desert. A lactation yield of 1500 kg is expected from an average lactating camel in the desert of Cholistan. 

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The Camel Heritage is sinking here…

The Marrecha pastoralists are facing the burden of constraints with a complex nature. Here the problems are presented in the bullets below.

  • Contrast to other deserts, the Cholistan is squeezing in size and the grazing lands are shrinking
  • The land right/grazing rights are not honored and the land grabbing is mounting with each moment of the time
  • The influentials from other regions and provinces allow the grazing lands of the pastoralists and shoot the camels entering in the allotted lands
  • Unfortunately, Cholistan desert is exactly situated along the world’s complex border between Pakistan and India
  • The movement restriction among the pastoralists on both sides of the border is resulting in the deterioration of the Marrecha breed because of the stipulation of the crossbreeding with other desert types of camels (Bikaneri and Jaisalmeri).
  • The region is one of the hot spots of the climate change which embracing the pastoralists with the complex challenges, especially new and fatal diseases.
  • The policy makers avoid engaging the pastoralists in policies, resulting in the Cholistan into the graveyard of the failed project. 

 

National Goat Show in Pakistan, The Story of Makhi Cheni Betal Breed

Organized and reported by Dr. Sajjad Khan

Dr. Sajjad Khan is a well-known scientist and currently working as Prf. and Dean faculty of Animal Husbandry, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Faisalabad Pakistan.

National goat show concluded here at Faisalabad (Pakistan) last evening on 21st October. It was very well attended the show as 663 animals competed for various beauty, weight and milk competitions. Beauty competitions were breed wise. Individual (male or female), pairs (breeding male and a breeding female) and flock (five adult females + 1 breeding male) competitions were held apart from goat kid beauty competition which was across breeds.

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Makhi Cheeni Beetal (MCB) breed from Bahawalnagar

Represented breeds were various strains of Beetal (Faisalabadi, Makhi-Cheeni, Nuqri and Nagri strains), Nachi-the dancing goat (Boora, Sawa, Makra and Bulahi strains) and Diara Din Panah (Kala and Shera strains). Single strains of Barbari, Pak-Angora, and Teddy breeds also competed. While beauty competitions were within, weight and milk competitions were across breeds. Breeders and goat keepers competed for cash prizes, trophies and certificates and just for fun. The show was supported by my University, GEF-UNEP-ILRI FAnGR Asia project and the Directorate of Small Ruminants, Government of Punjab.

Animals started arriving on 18th and 90% had reached by 19th. Animals from the host district arrived on 20thmorning as well. As some had taken a 10-hours journey, rest was needed especially for milking goats. Competitions continued till late into the evening on 20th. The goat kid competition, held for the first time (to promote goat as a pet) was conducted on 21st, the day for prizes and trophies. Some 50 goat kids competed and were paraded (actually allowed to move around for about a minute) before young boys and girls (between 5-8 years of age) who were our no-card guests/visitors and had even helped farmers in handling goats during flock competitions.

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Mature Buck of Makhi Cheeni Beetal

Some 50 were randomly selected from about 90+ boys and girls present. We had 50 red ribbons to be worn to the goat kids. Every kid was individually explained to not follow his/her friends or parents (some had come) for making his/her choice, rather his/her own likeness. While farmers kept sitting with their goat kids, judges (boys and girls) marched in front from one side to the other and selected their champion. Some had done it while animal science students (girls) were tagging the goat kids in the start, while others did it on the spot. Nuqri goat kid won the first position with 7 ribbons followed by Makhi-Cheeni and Barbari goat kids. It is worth mentioning that many goat kids were purchased by the local residents’ price ranging between 80 and 400 USD/animal at the end of the goat show.

 

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MCB lactating doe can produce up to 10 kg milk per day

 

 

Highest weight was 179kg of a Beetal  (Faisalabadi) buck while highest milk yield was of a Beetal Makhi-Cheeni goat producing 4 liters of milk on a voluntary intake as owners were not allowed to offer anything and competing goats remained in the custody of organizing committee before the beginning of emptying of udders till the last milking. Similar restrictions were imposed in weight competition. This was not a kidding season for goats because in our March competition last year, amount of milk by the winning goat was around 8 liters.

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The most deficient information seemed to be scoring the dancing gait of Nachi goats while a lot of indigenous knowledge (apart from the typical nose and longer neck, foot sole was desirable to be visible while animal walks, as narrated by a Nachi farmer) awaits documentation. Love for this breed could be judged talking to a 70-year-old farmer who had raised this breed since he was 10. I hope to learn from him and similarly knowledgeable farmers in future.

 

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Deep colored spotted MCB breed pregnant yearling

 

The show was telecasted live by at least five television channels. Introduction of Nagri strain of Beetal was the pleasant surprise for technocrats and so was the introduction of a colored strain of Diara Din Panah (Shera strain) which was even more attractive than the traditional black strain. Bucks with their cock screw longhorns, massive bodies (~100kg) and long hair really gave a dangerous look (as a friend called them terrorists). New strains of Nachi were also worth watching.  It looks we need to redefine breeds to incorporate farmers standards and available. Information available in booklets on various breeds looks quite distant from reality.

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Best animal of the show was a DDP buck (black strain). The best breeder was Mr. Nazir Masih with exceptionally good animals (1st in milk competition, 1st in flock beauty competition for MCB breed and 1st in individual female beauty competition in MCB breed).

 

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8 Month old MCB female

 

As always it was a very pleasant and rewarding to organize and conduct a goat show. Interaction and exchange of ideas with farmers is an asset. Few photos are attached. More photos with video clips will soon be posted at project website  (http://fangrpk.org/).

Dr. M. Sajjad Khan

Professor

Dept. Animal Breeding and Genetics

University of Agriculture Faisalabad 38040

PAKISTAN

Got Milk? Dairy found essential to prehistoric development in Africa–new research

DERIVED FROM ILRI BLOG
This month’s publication of a scientific article on new evidence of livestock herding in prehistoric Africa is stirring interest. ScienceDaily, for example, reports the following: Chemical analysis of pottery reveals first dairying in Saharan Africa nearly 7,000 years ago, 20 Jun 2012.

‘The first unequivocal evidence that humans in prehistoric Saharan Africa used cattle for their milk nearly 7,000 years ago is described in research by an international team of scientists, led by the University of Bristol, UK, published June 20 in Nature.

‘By analysing fatty acids extracted from unglazed pottery excavated from an archaeological site in Libya, the researchers showed that dairy fats were processed in the vessels. This first identification of dairying practices in the African continent, by prehistoric Saharan herders, can be reliably dated to the fifth millennium BC.

‘Around 10,000 years ago the Sahara Desert was a wetter, greener place; early hunter-gatherer people in the area lived a semi-sedentary life, utilising pottery, hunting wild game and collecting wild cereals. Then, around 7,000–5,000 years ago as the region became more arid, the people adopted a more nomadic, pastoral way of life, as the presence of cattle bones in cave deposits and river camps suggests.

‘Domesticated animals were clearly significant to these people: the engraved and painted rock art found widely across the region includes many vivid representations of animals, particularly cattle. However, no direct proof that these cattle were milked existed—until now. . . .

This confirms for the first time the early presence of domesticated cattle in the region and the importance of milk to its prehistoric pastoral people.

‘Julie Dunne, a PhD student in Bristol’s School of Chemistry and one of the authors of the paper said: “We already know how important dairy products such as milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter, which can be repeatedly extracted from an animal throughout its lifetime, were to the people of Neolithic Europe, so it’s exciting to find proof that they were also significant in the lives of the prehistoric people of Africa.

‘”As well as identifying the early adoption of dairying practices in Saharan Africa, these results also provide a background for our understanding of the evolution of the lactase persistence gene which seems to have arisen once prehistoric people started consuming milk products. . . .”‘

That dairying has a prehistoric tradition in Africa will come as no surprise to Olivier Hanotte and his colleagues working at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) (Hanotte is now at the University of Nottingham), who in 2002 published a paper providing evidence of the domestication of cattle in Africa: African pastoralism: Genetic imprints of origins and migrations, Science: 12 April 2002, Vol 296. Hanotte and his colleagues say that their evidence indicates that ‘the earliest cattle originated within the African continent’:

Cattle pastoralism is widespread in Africa today and still forms the basis of life for millions across the continent. Two hypotheses for the origins of African domesticated cattle are currently debated. The North African subspecies of wild cattle or aurochs Bos primigenius . . . may have undergone an indigenous African domestication around 10,000 years ago, possibly in the northeast of the continent . . . . However, the archaeological evidence is disputed and the molecular data are not conclusive . . . . Alternatively, domesticated cattle could have been introduced into Africa from the Near East where cattle domestication is known to have occurred . . . . Domesticated within the continent but genetically influenced by the centers of cattle domestication in the Near East and the Indus Valley, the modern African cattle breeds represent a unique genetic resource at a juncture when there is an urgent need to improve livestock productivity for the benefit of the present and future human generations.’

Andrew Oh-Willeke, an attorney in Denver, Colorado, who blogs at Dispatches from Turtle Island, further comments on the recent prehistoric dairy paper as follows.

‘New research confirms an emerging consensus about when and where herding domesticated animals began to replace hunting and gathering in Africa (an activity that included the use of pottery and the collection of wild grains), and expands our understanding of how that herding society worked.

‘It happened in North Africa (including many places that are now too arid for this activity) and the Nile Valley after similar developments in the Middle East, but at about the same time that herding emerges in Europe. It happened before the main African origin crops were domesticated, and not long after the domestication in Egypt of the donkey. It appears to have involved both dairying and the use of cattle for meat from the start, or from very close to the start of a herding mode of food production.’

Subscribers to Nature may read the paper discussed, First dairying in green Saharan Africa in the fifth millennium BC, by Julie Dunne, Richard P Evershed, Mélanie Salque, Lucy Cramp, Silvia Bruni, Kathleen Ryan, Stefano Biagetti and Savino di Lernia, in Nature, 2012; 486 (7403): 390 DOI: 10.1038/nature11186

The post on Dispatches from Turtle Island Blog goes on to say the following about this paper.

‘The abstract of the paper notes that: “In the prehistoric green Sahara of Holocene North Africa—in contrast to the Neolithic of Europe and Eurasia—a reliance on cattle, sheep and goats emerged as a stable and widespread way of life, long before the first evidence for domesticated plants or settled village farming communities.”

‘Notably, the find comes from the central Saharan highlands, not the Mediterranean coast or what is currently the African Sahel. The find comes not from the “wet Sahara” period itself, but from the period when the Sahara was becoming increasingly arid. There is an implication on the narrative from the press release journalism at ScienceDaily quoted above, that pastoralism may have not had much of an advantage over hunting and gathering until an increasingly arid climate in the Sahara tipped the scales in favor of pastoralism. . . .

‘This date is older by more than a thousand years than the oldest reliably dated Central Saharan find of cattle bones. . . .’

The same blog comments elsewhere on the domestication of cattle as well as the domestication and cultivation of sorghum, enset and pearl millet in Africa.