Thursday, March 10, 2011

Camel under threat

Camel under threat


Dr Abdul Raziq
Camel is very precious animal genetic resource of the drylands and playing pivotal role in the livelihood earning of the pastoral people of that region. Camel is a miracle and precious gift of Allah. Camel has all the characteristics alone which are scattered in almost all other livestock species and even plants. The importance of camel already explained in the previous article published in

In spite of the all the characteristics and peculiarities, camel are never addressed while formulating policies for the agricultural and rural development of the dry lands. It is very unfortunately that such a well adapted livestock like camel is neglected especially in the circumstances of desertification, climate change and global warming scenario. Some breeds of camel, under very minimum external in puts and ordinary grazing systems produce more than 30 kg of milk. Camel is an efficient machine which produces milk with a very low consumption of energy and proteins. Camels have true potential to combat the creeping desertification and global warming. It is a guarantee for safe quality food for the coming decades and centuries.

The situation for camel is now very miserable. This precious animal is under threat. There are many reasons for this sad state of situation but all are manmade. Negligence about the importance of camel and considering it as an old fashion are the main drivers for threatening camel development and production. I think the camel issue is not a country\'s issue. It is a regional issue i.e. the camel is pushed in large number to Iran from Pakistani Balochistan by smugglers. They don\'t bother about sex and physiological status. Many of them are pregnant. The number of camels is speedily decreasing in Pakistan, though our grey records don\'t correspond with this sad situation. The same is a dilemma in Afghanistan and India. Only in India, camel population dropped steeply within 10 years by about 50 The situation in Pakistan, especially Balochistan is not different from that. The best milk producing breeds of camel in Pakistan are Kharani and Brela. Kharani breeds is highly smuggled to Iran while Brela breed from Thar and Cholistan desert had been exported at large scale to Arabian rich gulf countries.

Unfortunately, one gets the impression that there has been not much development on this and that no donor has taken up this issue, although the camel is about the best thing that could happen to humanity as a means of adaptation to climate change and decreasing groundwater resources. Furthermore, the health benefits for Diabetes patients also make its milk a prime marketable good. Thousands of really marginalized people could contribute to food security and develop an economic perspective, if they received support with setting up value chains and marketing arrangements. Unfortunately, in the absence of such support, it is only cash-rich countries or private investors who can reap the benefits. The Arabian Gulf countries are currently trying to buy as many female camels as possible, since their supply of milk cannot match
demand, especially with demand for camel milk powder to make chocolate. It would be a tragedy if countries such as India, Pakistan, Iran and others would sell out their genetic resources that are incredibly valuable assets during climate change and provide livelihoods for rural people who are currently despondent because of lack of economic perspectives..

Suggestions and further innovations

There need to join hands and work on regional basis. SAVES is looking for a regional cooperation on the issue of camel decline. In this connection, value addition to camel milk is one of the key spot to help camel keepers and to conserve breeds. Livestock keepers are the custodian of their breeds and related indigenous knowledge is the basis for sustainable husbandry practices. Both the keepers and ultimately the indigenous knowledge are under threat.

LPPS in India is working on various products (incl. ice cream) and also has test-marketed the milk to local Diabetes patients in Jaisalmer with a good response. Nevertheless, there are many technical problems to be overcome and investments needed - in order to set up a camel dairy and cooling chain.

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About the Author
Author is the president of the Society of Animal, Vet. and Environmental Scientists (SAVES). Author had been working on the issues of the dry lands and indigenous livestock breeds. The author have the experience of livestock keeping, breeding and healthcare with both indigenous and modern knowledge. He had been working with the pastoral people for last 10 years, while motivating livestock keepers for their rights and access to grazing lands under the patronage of SAVES. Ahthor had been delivering training to the livestock keepers in remote for vaccination, drenching and other valuable practices. He is the author of the Pashtoon Bio-cultural protocol, which serves for the rights of the pastoral people under the ABS and work for the implementation of the Article J8 of the CBD. He is also the author of the indigenous livestock breeds, livestock production systems of the tribal people and indigenous knowledge in Balochistan province, Cholistan and Thar Desert of the Great Indian Desert. He had been traveling with the Afghan nomads (Kochis) to work and document their indigenous knowledge of livestock husbandry.

Author organized camel scientists and herder in Pakistan and founded Camel Association of Pakistan. Recently in Jan. 2010, we organized 3 days livestock keepers meeting under the patronage of SAVES and discussed the Pashtoon Bio-cultural protocol and organized an organization with the name of Indigenous Livestock Breeders Association (ILBA).
He has already presented many international research presentations at various occasions.Dr Abdul Raziq had visited many countries and research stations.

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