Karachi is the hub of the economic activities of Pakistan. The home of many industries and business offices, Karachiates spend extra money to buy unique and special items. The people of Karachi buy charming and beautiful bulls for qurbani (Eid ul Adha) Islamic ritual and pay many times more money for this purpose.
They like beautiful animals with more beef. They prefer polled animals with attractive colors. Usually, native breeds like Thari, Bhagnari, Cholistani, Lohani etc are preferred but a new phenomenon also exists as buying exotic beef cattle. The beef animal having white eye lashes and white muzzles are highly liked in the qurbani market. The whole white body is rather more acceptable.
Karachi is the largest market for such animals in Pakistan. It was revealed in a visit to Sind Dairy Farm that each dairy farm is producing beef animal for this special market. They either fattens their own male calves produced at farm or buy male beautiful calves from country side to hunt this market. They buy bulls/steers from the pastoralist communities like Dajal, Tharri, Rojhan etc. They dehorn such bull at the farm while using clutch wire. I felt such method very cruel and harmful for the animals. Some animals were found with wounds and pus because of de-horning with such a cruel method.
Only Sindh Dairy Farm sold 500 bulls for qurbani last year in Karachi market. We noticed that yearling male (12-15 month of age) were in a very good healthy having a weight of almost 600 kg. They have 100 beef animal, comprising of many breeds, i.e Rojhan, Dajal, Bhagnarri, Cholistani, Jersy, Belgium black, Simmental, Angus, and Hereford.
They regularly weigh their animal at monthly intervals and offer good and nutritious TMR.
This entrepreneur is a unique of its kind and provide opportunities to the commercial dairy farmers to harvest extra money and sustain profitable business. A comprehensive study is the utmost need of time to portrait the flow diagram and the income etc.
The farm is practicing embryo transfer technology at the farm. They have already produced 12 male and 8 female calves (now in breeding age). They have some more females with lesser ages. The embryo of HF was used for this purpose and the recipient mother was from Cholistani cattle.
The embryo was from the HF breed with milk production potential of 120 liter. The heifers produced with ET technology were then inseminated with the semen of RIVER bull. Embryo transfer technology was facilitated by military dairy farm Okara Pakistan.
The calves born at the farm are now well acclimatizing with the prevailing conditions and weathering temperature. They also use sexed semen only for good heifers and first calver. The cows with more parity are not suited to sex semen because of low success rate. They buy semen of the CRI Company through Altaf and Sons Company of Pakistan.
Camels4Life…. Advocacy for camel keepers is the immense need of time. They should take on board while making policies for food and agriculture, especially about camels.
When I started camel research in 2005, very little information was available on the camel in Pakistan. Very few among the city dwellers were aware of the peculiarities of camel milk, especially milk. There we no information available as a separate entity on camel milk in government economic survey etc. Camel milk was considered as other milk than cow and buffalo.
The policy makers were completely blank about the camel and its role in Pakistan. I completed my research/thesis of Ph.D. on this unique animal and proved its value as a live animal, role of products and also role in culture and heritage. The camel is getting more and more importance. Pakistani camel is now well documented in breeds and their worth is well defined. Now there are many people who know about camel importance in the cities also. The camel herders already knew it since centuries. My article on a camel as unique and fascinating animal played a pivotal role in camel promotion.
Livestock keeping is often portrayed as a pathway out of poverty, particularly for the landless poor. However, in recent years, concern has grown that standard approaches to poverty alleviation for livestock keepers are failing to produce the promised benefits, with producers facing increasing challenges from land grabbing, cheap imports and climate change.
In response, the League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development (LPP) has advocated the need for a new approach, re-examining the notion of growth and how to support sustainable livestock development. In September 2012, a conference on ‘Livestock Futures’, organised by the LPP in Bonn, Germany, gave an opportunity for livestock keepers and international experts to share their visions for the livestock sector and how to set it on a sustainable path. Several participants also shared their views with New Agriculturist.
The first role of the smallscale livestock keeper is that they conserve precious biodiversity, precious livestock breeds which are highly adaptable, which produce in a very low input system, which are resistant to many challenges. And second role they are producing high quality food items for the society, for the people. And thirdly they are the sign of our heritage, our culture; they attract tourists in the form of eco-tourism. Abdul Raziq Kakar, SAVES, Pakistan
The future of livestock depends on the future of livestock keepers. The importance of their contribution to food security and the economies of the countries where they raise their animals is tremendous. The value of animal trade has gone from US$250 million to US$1 billion in Africa in recent years. Getachew Gebru, MARIL research and development organisation, Kenya and Ethiopia
Many small livestock keepers are women
I discovered this interesting fact: the average size of dairy herd in the world is just three cows. You see how many small herds there must be? Small scale involves so, so many people. Large scale involves very few. We need to appreciate the role of the small scale and what they do for consumers and what we should be doing to help them.
Wolfgang Bayer, AGRECOL, Germany
I think small livestock keepers play a very important role in developing countries, in generating income for the families. Mostly the small livestock keepers are women and when the women get some income they take care of their family, their children and also resolve poverty in our local areas. Nouhoun Zampaligre (Burkina Faso), PhD student, University of Kassel, Germany
I think they have an important role in preserving local breed biodiversity and helping us to understand how multi-functional agriculture and livestock keepers can be. The smallscale producers have more criteria, not only money or production of milk or meat; they have traditions, they have culture and other things which are very important to preserve. Maria Rosa Lanari, National Institute for Agricultural Technology, Argentina
Pressures and policy failures
There’s not enough attention to what’s happening in livestock. Not enough attention on how we can link smallholders to market. The demand is from cities looking for cheap goods and it is likely that the smaller scale producers will be excluded because of the economies of scale and distance. Growth in Africa in recent years has been 6-7%. But the increase in demand is not being met by smallholders. It comes from imports. How do we tackle this? Henning Steinfeld, FAO
Smallscale livestock keepers are facing increasing challenges from land grabbing, cheap imports and climate change
In the pastoral system you have the people, you have the animals, you have the natural resources. That is where we usually fail. We either just take the livestock and work on it or we take the natural resource and work on it. We do not have this holistic approach. And secondly we need to be able to see how, when you change one factor you are also affecting the other, but we fail to understand how that is impacting. Getachew Gebru, MARIL, Ethiopia
Livestock keepers’ rights need to be recognised. Our contribution to the creation and maintenance of animal genetic resources is not widely appreciated. Sometimes I feel depressed that every pastoralist community faces the same problems but that is what makes it necessary to find solutions at international level, at national level, right down to local officials. Hanwant Singh, Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan (LPPS), Rajasthan, India
Policies do not support the poorest at all, not anywhere: not in Pakistan, not in Europe, not in America, not in Canada. The national governments, the international people they are looking for mega projects for big things to be visible, to get more support. But our lands are being grabbed; our ways are discouraged; with climate change there are new diseases. Everything is against us so we need the support of national and international bodies to survive. Abdul Raziq Kakar, SAVES
Strategies and solutions
For me a key step is the provision of credit to entrepreneurs to set up facilities such as a processing plant close to the producing areas. The livestock keepers will then have a reliable, convenient market for what they produce and with the new income they look after their family’s needs and then look after their livestock better and improve their health and productivity. They buy more from local feed mills and other suppliers and the benefits are shared. Nancy Abeiderrahmane, Tiviski Camel Milk Dairy, Mauritania
Reliable, convenient livestock markets are important
Smallholders in developing countries must clearly identify the benefits of these production systems. How can you measure these benefits and how can you use them to access the markets? We need to convince the consumer that this is important, to buy these things for their quality and the quality of their processing.
For Dutch farmers the solutions lie in restoration of soil fertility; the optimisation of the farm as a whole rather then the maximisation of one single product; to sell direct or add value; to diversify the farmer’s work and income; re-value local and dual-purpose breeds. I believe in livestock production globally there needs to be a ‘technology leap’ where developing countries can learn from what has happened in highly industrialised animal production sectors. Katrien van’t Hooft, Tradinova, Netherlands
There are good signs of regional collaboration. I see it starting in Africa, to regionally work together for example to control transboundary diseases that afflict so many smaller and poor livestock keepers. These initiatives are good but we need more. Getachew Gebru, MARIL
Listening and engaging
The smallholders, the pastoral people, they have no representation in the parliament. They have no political power. They are living in far flung areas so they have no participation at policy level. They are not asked when the policy is formalised. The utmost need is to take smallholders on board while formulating any policy relating to animal genetic resources, related to livestock production systems.
Abdul Raziq Kakar
Derived from the report of new agriculturist; available in the link below.
A friend through DAD-Net email list commented on the pastoral livestock of Mongolia
in the context of climate change.
“Scientists of many countries agree that more than 60% of natural disasters occurred worldwide are associated with global climatic change. The air temperature around the surface of earth increased by 1.50C in the last 50 years but same time air temperature of Mongolia increased by 4.10C. Therefore climate warming in Mongolia takes a place at faster rate by 3 times as compared to global warming. Climate change comes as an additional factor affecting a livestock sector that is already highly dynamic and facing many challenges.
What are adverse impacts of climatic changes and warming on animal husbandry in Mongolia?
Researchers consider that climate changes and global warming exert its effects on animal husbandry in Mongolia in the following ways:
1. We are observing and herders are lamentably talking about that of more than 2800 plant species grown in approximately 113 million ha rangelands of our country, more than 600 species are seen to be important for animal nutrition, but species of plants edible by livestock in any provinces are decreasing in the last years, instead of them Artemisia spp and weed plants inedible by animals are prevailing, and values of pastures are declining.
2. Number of rivers, streams, ponds and lakes, which were main sources of drinking water of rural people and animals, are drying off, ground water levels are lowering, and it exerts adverse impacts on water supply for both human populations and rangelands. For example, according to 2007 hydrological recording, 852 rivers, 2277 springs, 1181 lakes and ponds and more than mineral water sources were dried off.
3. Extreme warming results in lowering ground water level. It has adverse impacts on water supply of both human and animals and its guarantee. The lowering ground water level reveals the risk of drying off artisan wells and on the other hand construction of motorized wells will be more expensive.
4. In association with warming, there has been a tendency of increasing evaporation rate of earth surface moisture and intensification of acidification. In other words, precipitation is not sufficient to compensate soil moisture loss. It exerts adverse effects on pasture production and carrying capacity.
5. Sharp changes are occurring in annual precipitation characteristics and distributions. Although total amount of annual precipitations does not drop in most areas, scientists are proving and warning about changes of precipitation characters, distributions and effects on soil and plants. For example, during 1960-1980, drizzling rains lasted for days, rain water is absorbed deeply into soil and reached plant roots, and pasture vegetation was greater, while recent years, mostly heavy showers occur and cause flooding due to lack of absorbing rain water into soil. Precipitation becomes less in May or June, when pasture plants are intensively growing. As a consequence, real condition of revival of natural pastures with shorter period of summer and autumn seasons, and formation of sufficient reserves of pasture plants to be used for winter and spring seasons cannot be provided regularly. As well, it has been observed that more frequent snowfalls, periodical colds and snow and dust storms in winter and spring in the last years than previous years have a tendency to encompass broader areas and be common characters.
6. In 2009 report of climatic change, there are facts about that Mongolian livestock body is becoming smaller and their productivity is reducing in the last years due to above mentioned real situations, which are adverse consequences of global climatic changes. According to survey of more than 40 meteorological stations located in various natural and climatic regions of our country, weight of native Mongolian cattle dropped by 14-19 kg, sheep and goats by 7-8 kg, and wool yield of sheep decreased by approximately 90 g, which should not be left without paying attentions. Recent years, favorable periods of summer and autumn are curtailed or last approximately 100-120 days, whereas severe winter and spring periods increased or last 220-240 days.
7. Native Mongolian livestock populations, which are raised in pasture for all year round, are emaciated and exhausted due to the following 5 reasons:
a. Pasture plant production reduces during winter and spring seasons
b. Duration of grazing on the pasture decreases.
c. Pasture plant nutritive values decrease.
d. Pasture plant digestibility reduces.
e. Feed consumption for pregnant and lactating animals increases.
Scientists demonstrated that pastoral livestock are able to eat only about 40-50% of their daily feed intake because production, digestibility and nutritive value of pasture plants, and grazing length decrease during winter and spring. On the other hand, nutritive demands (nutrients, minerals and biologically active matters) of pregnant and lactating animals increase sharply during winter and spring. Demands of nutrients, minerals and biologically active matters of pregnant and lactating animals are greater by 30-40% as compared to male animals, barren females and early pregnant animals.
8. Extreme warming exerts adverse impacts on livestock comfortable pasture grazing. According to surveys and estimations of competent authorities and scientists it has a tendency of increasing drastically number of very hot days due to climatic changes. It means there are undesired impacts on animal welfare, body conditions and milk yields, young animal body growth and development, animal body resistance, and finally preparation of animals for wintering. Generally, summer warming above 200C has adverse effects on livestock grazing, resulting in gathering in groups, searching shadowy places, laying down and standing instead of active grazing, and therefore hindering pasture grazing of animals. Despite pasture grazing length in summer and autumn seasons is 13-14 hours; the most active grazing period is only 3-5 hours as reported by researchers. Hence it means this period will be shorter due to extreme warming in summer and autumn.
9. In territories of any provinces and villages it is observed that lack of precipitations during summer and autumn results in drop of hay field and pasture plant productions and reduction of numbers of palatable plants with higher nutritive values and capable to be kept sufficiently in the pasture during winter and spring. In other words it means values of pasture are decreasing due to warming effects.
10. Snowfalls during winter have been greater in the last decade and a common tendency that it will further increase, majority of annual precipitations occur in the form of snowfall during winter and spring seasons, while rain will be rare during May and June, which are months of pasture plant active growth, is now being found.
1. Climate warming in Mongolia takes place at faster rate by 3 times as compared to global warming;
2. Pastoral animal husbandry of Mongolia is under naturally risky situations for all year round.”
Livestock for Futures and Global Agenda of Action (GAA)
There is ever increasing demand for meat, milk and other livestock products because of crawling urbanization, developing economies, population pressure and awareness about livestock based food stuffs (contrary to developed countries, where the people are minimizing usage of animal products, especially meat). Up to 2050, there is a challenge of more meat and milk 74 % and 52% respectively to fulfil nutritional requirements. In the meanwhile some hot issues are also interconnected to livestock i.e. food security, environmental issues, feed and water scarceness, human health and biodiversity etc. In the above mentioned situation GAA stresses for a sustainable livestock production systems to keep a smooth course of animal based food products.
To understand the chemistry of sustainable livestock production, we need to know in depth about the current livestock production systems prevailing in at global level. In a broader sense there are two production systems like that of high input livestock production systems (HILPS) and small scaled livestock production systems (SSLPS).
High Input Livestock Production system (HILPS) is composed of high yielding genetic resources (cattle, pig, chicken, maize and soy), heavy mechanization/automation, large strips of land, heavy loans and subsidies, tax payer money, modern education/techniques, processing plants and corporate sector support. The system provokes import of feed resources, especially soy and export food items and even manure. Such system demands huge consumption of fossil oil which further complicates the question of sustainability.
On the other hand, SSLPS depend on a wide flora and fauna biodiversity. This system not only produces healthier food but also provides eco-system services and touristic opportunities. The system is highly sustainable and evolved with precious traditional knowledge. This system relies on local feed resources and high level import of feed resources is out of question.
Threats from High Input Livestock Production system (HILPS)
To beat the challenges of ever increasing food items, HILP is generally supported among the policy makers to beat this challenge. In contrary small-scaled livestock production (SSLP) is always neglected and even considered as backward and worthless. The rich industrialized livestock production system is getting more and more volume while engulfing small scale farming consequential in a threat to precious biodiversity of livestock and other related biomasses. The use of narrow based genetic material making it susceptible to catastrophe of certain genes’ linked diseases which further deepens the concerns about its sustainability. The present HILP is not sustainable and this bubble cannot inflate further. The rupture of this bubble can create further catastrophes which demands for making it sustainable. Regrettably, such theme is still embryonic among the policy makers.
In Europe, USA and other industrialized countries the number of farms are lessening and number of livestock is increasing. Such intensification provokes other problems like that of environment and animal welfare. HILPS is centered on high level import of Soy and corn from Latin America resulting in marginalization of small keepers over there and promote land grabbing. The precious and wide biodiversity of rain forests is on stake because of this mega monster.
To achieve the goal of sustainable livestock future, some suggestions are hereby presented in the ensuing lines.
Taking small scaled livestock keepers on-board at policy levels (local, national, regional and international levels) is the paramount need of time
Linking small farmers with the market through branding of its products and value addition
A diverse livestock production system based on a many pillars, like biodiversity, TK, culture, heritage, ecosystem services and management, native livestock breeds, is more sustainable and can produce healthy food
There is utmost need of time to understand and study SSLPS and evaluate in a broader module to compare with HILPS
Convincing consumers to pay more for the products come from the pastoral and small scale livestock keepers
Agriculture should declare as heritage but not only food production factory by the developing countries
Promotion of production in balance, not import feed and not export manure
The above paragraphs were written in the context of GAA of the FAO and Livestock for Futures Conference in Bonn, Germany.
People who live in drylands know that they can cope with scarcity of water up to a point, but sometimes their way of life becomes just too difficult to continue. It is the same with natural and agricultural ecosystems. Plants and animals need water and also tend to depend on one another to some extent. If environmental stresses become too much they may die back. Then if vegetation cover in the landscape is reduced and the soil is not protected from potential erosion, land degradation and desertification may result. Sometimes the resilience of landscapes is stressed to a tipping point and adverse changes then follow quickly. At the moment little is known about the connections between environmental stresses and catastrophic shifts.
Drylands cover about 40% of the land surface of the globe, and are home to over two billion people, so it is important to protect people’s livelihoods. The CASCADE Project will help towards a better future. We know quite a lot about how plants and animals live together, but we need to know more about the thresholds that determine whether ecological communities can survive or not in drylands. Are some types of ecosystem more resilient to change than others? What characteristics improve resilience? How easy is it to restore degraded land? A series of experiments in different sites across dryland Europe will help to give some answers.
One important tool to combat desertification is to maintain and improve biodiversity in drylands. The greater the numbers and types of plants and animals, the more likely it is that they can act together to protect the land from erosion and degradation. The United Nations Conventions to combat desertification, on biological diversity and on climate change are all closely linked, and the CASCADE Project will provide new insights on these links.
The CASCADE experiments will look at different spatial scales, from small plots to landscapes and the results will be shared with local people and policy makers. If these people like the CASCADE scientific recommendations for protecting their land, there is a good chance that their neighbours will also accept new ideas and want to try them for themselves. For those who can access the internet an online information system called CASCADIS will be built, giving details of the experiments, the results and the recommendations that will help to prevent ecosystem degradation.
Indigenous/local livestock Species/breeds are well adapted to the dry and marginal lands of the world. Such breeds use the scarce resources of such lands and produce high valued and precious products for food. Among such adapted livestock species, camel is the most important one and is well appreciated in this regards. Camel is highly adapted to such dry and marginal lands, ensuring the livelihood of the millions of people. Camel is not only an efficient biological machine of the difficult environment but can be a solution for many difficult questions (drought, climate change, water and feed scarcity and food security challenge) of the future.
In spite of all its characteristics camel is neglected animal among the policymakers both at national and international levels. Such negligence is resulting in the sinking of camel culture and there is a severe camel decline in some Asian countries, especial South East Asia. In the near past and present, the importance of camel is well realized and documented at different levels. Many scientific works of literature were produced to highlight camel importance on various aspects of camel, especially camel genetic resources and its milk production potential. Many camel projects were initiated and still continue on camel milk and other aspects in different parts of the world. To highlight the importance of camel and its challenges, a world camel day was proposed by the author and ultimately 22 June was declared as world camel day. Camel day will be celebrated in many parts of the world by camel scientists and activist to highlight it as an integral part of biodiversity and efficient biological model in the dry and deserted lands of the world.
Camels4Life, International Society of Camelids Research and Development (ISOCARD), Camel Association of Pakistan (CAP), Society of animal, vet and environmental scientists (SAVES) and LIFE Network Pakistan is going to celebrate this day by conducting seminars and media campaign in Pakistan. A page on Facebook is composed and the link is given below.
As UN is celebrating the decade of Biodiversity, it is very in place to celebrate camel day and correlate it with the decade of biodiversity. Camel is very integral part of the world’s biodiversity and not harmful for flora/vegetation as camel takes few bites and walk to the other plant. Camel pad is like the cushion and not harmful for the plants in the rangelands and desert.
I’m hereby thankful to all camel scientists and activists who supported me for declaring a world camel day. I appeal to all the camel stakeholders, either they are herders, scientists or activist to take the active part in celebrating world camel day and to raise awareness about the uniqueness of camel and its products.
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.
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.
Donkey is very useful, important and precious animal genetic resource for food and agriculture. Donkey plays pivotal role in the livelihood earning of the million people of the world. Donkey is widely use for pastoral movement, carting, agricultural operations and recreation purposes. There is wide intra and in breed diversity. Such diversity is based on habitat, purpose, selection etc. Donkey is well adapted to all climatic conditions and ecosystem. It ranges from cold temperate region, cold deserts, dry and hot deserts, plain lands, high Alps and coastal ecosystems of the globe.
In some countries, the products, especially milk and meat of donkey is also use. Milk is use as medicine among the pastoral communities for the treatment of respiratory diseases since long time. The meat products are use in many countries of the world and Salami is the famous dish of donkey meat.
Donkey is now introduced in many EU countries as ecosystem service to help in the flora biodiversity in the forest. One of the best example is in Germany, where black berry increased manifolds as a weed in the forests of pines and retarted the germination of the new pine plants. Donkey was introduced in the forest to control black berry and the results are now very visible in such places. Such services of donkey can be the option hope for its conservation in Western Europe and other countries of the world. In Germany, grazing with livestock is the most commonly used strategy for maintaining the landscape and for conserving rare plants, as well as certain bird species on the Red List. Federal and state governments, as well as local municipalities, pay livestock keepers for these services, usually by the number of animal grazing days. Depending on the type of habitat to be maintained, different species, including donkeys, cattle, and sheep are used most frequently.
The auto-mobile revolution and other social changes affected the historical importance of donkey. The scientists and communities are looking for different and various options to keep donkey as a hope. There are many success stories in this regard, the landscape management is one of the important one. Also, in Balochistan province of Pakistan, Shingharri donkey is used for mining industry of the chromite. The donkey is well praised for its power, obedience and good learning attitude by the mining industry.
Unfortunatel, donkey never enjoyed due importance among the policy makers of the national governments and international organizations. In some countries talking about donkey issues is a sort of taboo. The western educated vets. even sometimes hesitate to talk about donkey and do not work on donkey issues.
Donkey welfare is the challenge of the modern era. Among the carters of donkey, beating, punishment, poor feeding and hard conditions are very common. I hereby appreciate the efforts of Brooke international for halting cruelty on donkeys. The author being the head of the SAVES, introduced world donkey day to stimulate awareness on the donkey issues and to help in halting cruelty. I appeal to the world people to arrange activities on this day and create awareness in this regard.
Cholistan Desert (also locally known as Rohi) sprawls thirty kilometers from Bahawalpur, covers an area of 16,000 km². It adjoins the Thar Desert extending over to Sindh and into India. The word the Cholistan is derived from the Turkish word Chol, which means Desert. The Cholistan thus means Land of the Desert. The people of Cholistan lead a semi-nomadic life, moving from one place to another in search of water and fodder for their animals. The dry bed of the Hakra River runs through the area, along which many settlements of the Indus Valley Civilisation have been found. The present-day Cholistan is a part of the ancient Hakra civilization (HakraRiver), one of the oldest civilizations of the Aryan settlers in the Indian subcontinent. The Cholistan is home to diverse and unique animal genetic resources. Such animals are highly adapted to the local ecosystem and provide food in very low input systems or even zero inputs. Both the Rohi people and their animal genetic resources are always neglected and underestimated. The climate change challenges push the scientists and policymakers to characterize and document the true worth of these important animal breeds and to convert it in wealth and power of the Rohi people.
Falling in southern Punjab, Cholistan is one of the largest deserts of the country and part of the great Indian Desert. The Cholistan comprises three districtsBahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, and Rahim Yar Khan. The total area of Cholistan is 66,55,360 acres. The largest area of Cholistan is present inBahawalpurwhich is 40,28,217 acres. The temperature ranges in the Cholistan from 6 to 50°C. The length of Cholistan is 480 km and width ranges from 32 to 192 km. The human population of Cholistan is 1,55,000 whereas the livestock population is 13,18,000. Table 1 shows some more facts are summarized below.
Table 1. A glance at some basic facts about the Cholistan
Area spread (kms)
480 x 32-192
Area in acres
R Y Khan
28º 15’0 N
70º 45’0 E
The groundwater for these populations is mostly brackish. The inhabitants of Cholistan are called Rohi and the main tribe of the camel herders is Marrecha. The camel that belongs to Marrecha tribe is known as Marrecha breed. The other tribe which usually resides on the peripheries of the desert adjoining to irrigated lands is called Malgade. Malgade usually keeps the Brela camel. The Cholistan is the homeland of many precious animal genetic resources i.e. camel, cattle, sheep, and goat. Most of the Cholistan is covered with the wide range of nutritious and drought tolerant species of vegetation. Deep in desert, the camel mostly rely on Khar, Lana, Jand, and Kareer, while in the peripheries mostly kikar is available along the water courses and roadside (Table 2).
Table 2 showing the vegetation available for the camel in Cholistan desert
Cholistan Development Activities
The water sources available in the desert are comprised of Toba system and water supply provided by the Cholistan Development Authority and that of PCRWR. Toba is a pond, where rainwater is collected and stored after rains and camels were gathered for drinking before stating their browsing of the day. This water used by all the inhabitants of desert until it dries up. Here are some famous tobas of the desert.
Toba Meer Gargh Fort
Toba Moaj Gargh
Channan Peer and
Ghurkan Rest House.
Animal Genetic Resources in the Living Desert of Cholistan (Rohi)
Cholistani cattle is the best animal in habitats like the Cholistan and a source of income for pastoral people. This breed is medium size, well-developed udder and color range from red and black spotted with white background. Some species are purely red. Cholistani cattle possess well-developed hanging dewlap. The population of Cholistani cattle is 6,67,000 which is the maximum among Livestock population. Milk production potential of these animals is 8-10 liter per day in the desert area and lactation length is the 8-9 month. But install feeding management 18-20 liter per day with 7-8 month lactation length.
The maximum milk record is 29 liter per day at Jugaitpeer Farm. Despite the problems faced like lack of proper feeding pattern, poor ranges, long drought, lack of concentrate feed and water and low prices in the inner Cholistan, these perform well.
Sheep & Goat
There are three sheep breeds of sheep viz; Sipli (northern periphery of Cholistan), Buchi (in a central part of the desert) and Kadali (in the rear Cholistan or nearby R Y Khan Distt). Very common breed of goat is the local hairy goat.
The population of sheep is 3,51,000 while goat is 2,20,00 heads in Cholistan desert. There are two seasons of shearing one is spring and other is autumn shearing. The average wool production of Ram and Ewes is 5-6 kg in spring shearing and 3-5 kg in autumn shearing. The main purpose of farming of sheep breed is wool production. The wool price of these breeds is Rs 25/- per shearing but it has no future scope. Lots of wool stays in the desert, which is lying there at the mercy of natural vagaries. We suggest that L&DD Dept and CDA should do something collectively to bring this wool to some use. Wool Lab atBahawalpurcan also plays its role.
There are two types of camel breeds of Cholistan, one is Marrecha and second one is Brela. The camel population is almost 70,000 heads. About sixty (60%) population is Marrecha which is a beautiful animal and used for dancing purpose. While 40% population is of Brela which is a milking animal and maximum milk record of this breed is 22 liter. The milking season of Brela is from October to March.
The average herd size of the Marrecha camel is 37. The majority are female with 20-25 lactating camels. The color ranges from blackish brown to light brown while the majority is fawn. Marrecha has long thin neck, long legs, long eyelashes, hair on the ears & neck with medium head and pointed muzzles. The rabbit-like ears are the salient feature of this breed. The top priority of Marrecha herders is to produce drought camels for the transportation of their families in the desert. As Marrecha is highly demanded its racing ability and beauty, the herders stress on its beauty trait also.
Fig.Animal Genetic Resource~ Marrecha camel of Cholistan
This breed is mainly used for the transportation and riding in the desert. The male is trained for many events and riding in the desert ecology. There is high demand for Marrecha camel by the race hobbyist in local market andMiddle East. The Marrecha camel is liked by the hobbyists and the carters of the cities and produces milk in harsh conditions with high temperature and scarcity of feed & water. This characteristic of Marrecha camel enabling its’ herders to live in deep and use the camel milk as food security. As Marrecha camel found in the deep desert, therefore it is milked when the pastoral family needs it. They provide a good amount of milk to male calves for vigor and good health in future.
Types of male animals are sold at the age of 3-4 years at different times of the year. They sell it locally and at the famous camel fairs also. Channan Peer fair is one of the famous destinations of the male Marrecha animals. The average price is almost Rs. 50,000/- to 70,000/- but some animals may attain a price of Rs 4-5 lacs according to its beauty, attraction, and taste of the buyer.
The average herd size of the Brela camel is 26, with the majority of the female. The lactating camel ranges from 23-27% of the herd but depends upon the status of the year (dry or wet). The color ranges from blackish brown to light brown while the majority is deep brown, sometimes white specimen are also found. Brela is one of the massive breed of the country with the thick neck, wide chest, muscular legs and massive head. The hanging lip is one of the salient features of the breed. Brela camel is mainly raised for milk and male animals are sold for meat purpose. This is one of the high milk producing animal and produces up to 22 liters per day. The docility of the breed stands as its special trait. Any stranger can milk it any time of the day. It is also easy in adaptation in any kind of ecosystem, which is a tool, which can be used in the areas for milk production where camel had never been raised.
Fig. Brela camel Breed
The Brela camel originates from the ThaldesertofPakistan. Thal desert is already squeezed and remained only 32%. The rest of Thal desert is irrigated and brought under canal irrigation. The people replaced from that area starred a new strategy of camel production. They migrate from Thal to the Cholistan in August and stay here for 5 months and go back to Thal and their irrigated areas. They move along the road and railway tracks and their camel browse on vegetation available and whenever they find open areas, the aftermath of the crops, or labor the nearby fields, they stay there for a limited time. They also stay near the peripheries of the cities to sell camel milk, which usually is mixed in buffalo milk by the middleman and sold in the cities. They know the cultural events of their migratory routes and hence they participate in the melas (fairs) to sell their male animals and milk. They had adopted a very good strategy to keep the camel production system viable. Brela camel is milked very regularly twice the time. The women usually sell the milk and the earning usually goes to them. As Brela is good milk producer with sustainable lactation yield is resulting from a good source of earning in the form of milk for its herders especially the woman folks.
Problems and Constraints
Squeezing lands is one of the major problems for camel production systems in Pakistan, especially Cholistan desert. The desert had already brought under cultivation and the land allotted in the majority of the cases to the influential people of the country. The Brela camel herders and other livestock keepers were replaced and never compensated for their losses. Because of no representation in the policy-making organizations and legislation. they couldn’t raise their voice against this cruelty. The small ruminants and cattle breeders already left the occupation of livestock husbandry but the camel herders adapted a new way while moving long routes with their camel and traveling up to the desert of Cholistan. The Cholistan is also squeezing in size, the land grabbing is one of the important issues and the grazing lands are decreasing every day.
Fig.The dancer~ Marrecha camel
The Marrecha camel herders usually live and migrate with their camels in the deep desert according to the availability of foliage and accessibility of water. In such a remote and far-flung area, there is no market for camel products i.e. milk and wool, etc. The Brela camel herders take benefits of the roads in the peripheries for their milk sale. No doubt the male camel of Marrecha breed catch good prices in the fairs mostly buys for racing/riding and carting, etc. The female of the Brela catches very high price because of the interest of the Gulf countries in the breed for its appreciable milk production. But this scenario is not good for the sustainability of this breed. The Brela camel herders sell their precious animals to buy a piece of land for settlement in the peripheries of Cholistan, as they fear to lose the Cholistan because of land grabbing Mafia. This is a bad state of the situation for the high yielding camel like Brela.
a. For development workers and public institutions value, addition to camel products will be a great idea to eradicate extreme poverty in such a plunged area and enhance rural livelihood.
b. From scientist’s perspectives, we suggest that Camel is the animal of the future and can be an important tool to combat the new challenges like drought, climate changes, global warming and creeping desertification, emerging diseases and competition for feed & water resources.
c.Development of the camel race industry can bring the smile to the Rohi people as it may attract billion of Rupees in the area. Marrecha camel of the region is the best choice in this regards.
This will require a holistic approach on all facets of camel production by all players on the ground with the help of Rohi people to make a difference in their lives and also convert this future food basket into safe and health promising camel milk. How early it can be done, will depend on how serious we are to bring this dream into reality.