Friday, September 30, 2011

A unique and fascinating creature! the camel

A unique and fascinating creature! the camel


Dr Abdul Raziq
Camel had been playing pivotal role in socioeconomic life of its breeders. Camel is highly admired throughout the histroy. This precious animal is unique of its kind and highly useful in desert and steepy terrians of the world. Camel is even highly praised in the religeous beleives and highly appreciated in the holy books.

In holy Quran it is said 'Do they not look at the Camels, how they are made?  And at the Sky, how it is raised high?  And at the Mountains, how they are fixed firm? And at the Earth, how it is spread out?  In these honored verses, Allah (Praise & Glory be to him) surpassed the camel upon all other living creatures, and made the contemplation of how it was made prior to raising high the sky, fixing firm the mountains, or spreading out the earth. In this honored verse, the Creator, who knows the secrets of his creatures, advises people to think and contemplate in creating camels as a creature witnesses Allah\'s glory, power and planning.

The Arabs believe that only the camels know the one-hundred name of God, means that the human being knows 99 names of Allah and 100th name is only known by camel. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) delivered his last sermon, which is considered the Charter of the Humanity, while sitting on a camel called Qiswah. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) will be sitting on a camel while entering Jannah and Hazrat Bilal (RTA) will have the Mahar of the camel, leading camel to Jannah.

Camel has itself all the capabilities, which are scattered in all the other known and useful animals. Every product of camel is useful. Even urine and faeces are valuable. Camel urine is used for medicinal purposes, otitis (ear infection), ascities (water belly) etc, and faeces is used as organic manure and fuel. The long bones of camel are used by jewelers in some Arab and African countries. The camel rearing communities have very firm links with camel culture, e.g. camel racing and dancing are very common.

Some of the many known and unknown qualities and significances of camel are presented in the ensuing lines.

  • Camel is the only livestock specie which was originally domesticated for milk; God gifted the camel to Prophet Saleh (PBUH) for milk only, almost 3500 BC.

  • Camel is the only animal of dry lands which can produce up to 40 liter milk per day in ordinary grazing conditions. Such high yielding specimens are found in Pakistan, especially in deserted areas of the country.

  • It is the most efficient in milk production on per unit feed consumption basis, i.e. a cow in rangelands conditions needs 9.1 kg of dry matter feed to produce one liter of milk, while camel produce one liter of milk by consuming only 1.9 kg of dry matter feed in the same conditions.

  • The lengthy days without water couldn\'t depress the camel\'s milk quantity or quality. The milk becomes even more watery during the period of water scarcity to fulfill the water requirements of thirsty suckling calves.

  • Camels have four teats with at least two orifices in each teat. If one orifice is blocked the milk can come through the other orifices.

  • Camel contains equal quantity of milk in four quarters, not like cows, which have more milk in hindquarters.

  • The colostrums are white and watery instead of thick and cream colored (cow colostrums).

  • The content of niacin in camel milk is remarkably higher than in cow milk.

  • Camel milk contains five times more vitamin C compared to cow milk. Vitamin C is anti infectious and is very important for human health, especially in dry and deserted areas.

  • Camel milk contains insulin like protein and is therefore used to treat Diabetes mellitus.

  • Camel milk has higher levels of potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, sodium and zinc than cow milk

  • Camel milk contains medicinal properties to treat different ailments such as autoimmune diseases, allergies, asthma, rashes, diabetes, liver disorders, ascites, rheumatism, inflammatory conditions, piles, urethral irritation, infectious diseases like tuberculosis, stress, depression, peptic ulcers and cancer.

  • Camel milk is a nervine tonic and helps in good eyesight. The pastoral people depending on camel milk never get weak eyesight.

  • It is a booster of the immune system, contains protective proteins, including the immunoglobulin necessary for maintaining the immune system and nutritional advantages for brain development.

  • Camel milk has higher levels of lactoferrin and lysozyme which play a central role in the determination of these properties.

  • It contains 25-30 times as much lactoferrin as cow milk. Lactoferrin is a fairly recently discovered iron containing protein that has been shown to have antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-carcinogenic effects.

  • Camel milk is use as aphrodisiac, especially in the stressful conditions of the dry hot weather.

  • The low quantity of beta casein and the lack of beta lactoglobulin are linked to the hypo-allergic effects of camel milk.

  • Because of the low lactose content, it does not cause lactose intolerance problem in infants. Camel milk can be the best replacement of infant food after the mother\'s breast.

  • Camel milk is a rich source of proteins with potential anti-microbial and protective activity.

  • The camel milk fat is bound with the protein; therefore, it is difficult to remove fats from camel\'s milk. The fat globule are smaller in camel milk than in cow milk and it\'s explain that camel milk is unstable at high temperature.

  • Camel milk protein is coated with fats, which enhance protein absorption. It passes the acidic stomach undisturbed (does not coagulate easily because of fat coating) and reaches the intestines for absorption.

  • Camels\' milk fat contains much higher concentration of long-chained fatty acids (C 14 - C 18) than short-chained fatty acids, and is therefore healthier.

  • Sour camel milk is not waste but is a part of the traditional diet in Somalia as 'susa' and in Arabia as 'Al-garss' and in Baloch pastoral as 'Sorain'.

  • A camel dairy in the UAE and an Austrian chocolatier recently teamed up in a joint venture to produce chocolate made from camel milk, sweetened with honey from Yemen.

  • Making cheese from camel milk can be difficult, but the Maurietanian Tiviski Dairy processes camel milk into modern, high-quality products. Camel cheese 'Camelembert' is one of their special items.

  • Mongolian nomads in the Gobi Desert distil a delicious drink from soured camel milk with low alcohol content, known as 'camel vodka'.

  • Camel ice cream was first promoted by the Israeli scientist Reuven Yagil, but the National Research Centre on Camels in Bikaner, India, now also produces a delicious camel milk-based kulfi, a local variation on ice-cream.

  • Camel oil, produced in Australia, is lower in cholesterol than other animal cooking fats, and can be used to make soaps and cosmetics, even creams for sensitive baby skin. A line of cosmetics based on camel milk is also the dream project of Nancy Abdeirrahmane from the Tiviski Dairy. Camel meat is healthier as they produce carcasses with less fat as well as having less levels of cholesterol in fat than other meat animals.

  • Camel meat is also relatively high in polyunsaturated fatty acid in comparison to beef. This is an important factor in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

  • Camel meat is also used for remedial purposes for diseases such as hyperacidity, hypertension, pneumonia and respiratory disease as well as an aphrodisiac.

  • Camels reach live weights of about 650 kg at 7–8 years of age, and produce carcass weights ranging from 125 to 400 kg with dressing-out percentage values from 55to 70 Camel carcasses contain about 57muscle, 26bone and 17fat.

  • Camel lean meat contains about 77water, 19protein, 2.8fat, and 1.2ash with a small amount of intramuscular fat, which renders it a healthy food for humans.

  • Camel meat has been described as raspberry red to dark brown in color and the fat of the camel meat is white.

  • The amino acid and mineral contents of camel meat are often higher than beef, probably due to lower intramuscular fat levels.

  • Camel meat has been processed into burgers, patties, sausages and shawarma to add value.

  • Because of its low cholesterol content, Australia\'s National Heart Foundation has put camel meat on its list of highly recommended food items. 'Camburgers' and 'camfurters' are among the products that have been produced by a team of scientists around Prof. Farah at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

  • Camels can travel many days without feed or water. In the kind of terrain I like to ride in, this is a very important factor.

  • A traveler can continue journey without bothering too much about the feed and water. Camel eats each and everything when tired and hungry.

  • The long muscular legs allows camels to cover great distances, they walk up to 40 km per day with 200 to 300 kg of baggage.

  • Camel is better as riding animal than horse. They are quieter and gentler than horses.

  • Camels seem smarter than horses about getting themselves out of a precarious situation. If a horse gets tangled up in a rope, it may struggle violently and get rope burns (or worse). A tangled up camel will, after briefly testing the bonds, sit quietly and figure out what to do next.

  • Camels can carry more weight than horses. Also, a well-designed camel saddle has more room to carry whatever extra gear you are packing than a horse saddle has.

  • Riding a camel is quiet and peaceful (that is, once the camel is well trained enough that it no longer grumbles along the way). Camel\'s slipper-like feet make hardly any noise. Without the clip-clop of hooves, you can hear the wind sighing in the brush, the rustle of autumn leaves, a coyote howl in the distance on a moonlight ride.

  • The camel gets in high spirits at the tune of music and songs and it walks faster in spite of being tired.

  • The camels are the most disciplined and obedient creatures. They and can be ordered to sit or stand again and again and can walk in a row silently behind the leading man, woman or even a child.

  • The camel is a unique beast of burden, which is loaded in sitting position and gets up with a jerk of its long neck.

  • Camels do not need to be shod. The cost of shoeing horses can really add up! Furthermore, camels don\'t usually colic like horses do, although they occasionally bloat.

  • There is a certain pride in riding a well-trained camel. It is a sign of prestige for camel owner to ride and travel on a meahari camel.T

  • The disease register of camel is quite short (very few fatal diseases are reported in camel). Camel is resistant to many notorious diseases like foot and mouth disease, mad cow disease (BSE) and Brucellosis etc.

  • Camel is resistant to ticks diseases. A load of more than 100 ticks on camel body cannot affect camel health and production.

  • The camel has a large mouth, with 34 sharp teeth. They enable the animal to eat rough thorny bushes without damaging the lining of its mouth.

  • Camel can eat everything (bark, dates seed, salty mud and even paper) when there is scarcity of feed, while in good feeding conditions, it does prefer protein rich diet.

  • The long flexible neck and legs saves it from ground heat and gives easy approach to tall trees for browsing. Camel can browse at 3.5 m above the ground.

  • The formation of the mouth is such that there are long conical papillae on the inside of the cheeks directed backward and the camel can browse at the thorny plants without any harm. The canine teeth help the camel to take into grip the twigs. Such kind of teeth is not found in other ruminants. The soft palate is developed and comes out on one side of the mouth like a red hanging bladder. This happens usually in rutting (breeding) seasons.

  • Camel has a well-developed power to smell. They can smell water 50 mile away by smelling geosmin which is a fragrance produced by streptomytes species growing in the dump soil.

  • Under very hot conditions, the camel may drink only every 8-10 days and loose up to 30of the its live body weight through dehydration. Other animals die at 10live body loss through dehydration.

  • Camel urinate less than 1 liter of urine per day in hot summer days. In the period of water scarcity camel urinates a semi liquid substance like syrup.

  • Oval shape erythrocytes (instead of round in other animals) expand up to 200their normal size as camels drink rapidly an amount of 190 liter of water in 10-15 minutes.

  • Camel can store water in its all body compartments (intracellular, extracellular, blood and digestive tract etc). Every organ has the extraordinary capacity to store water.

  • They can live without water for 3 days in summer and 7 days in winter. However, there are some examples of this animal remaining without water for 20 to 40 days. After 40 days the camel goes blind due to excessive dehydration.

  • Camel can vary body temperature up to 6.7 CÂș, having a great endurance power to stand scorching heat. Camel even absorbs heat in the day time by increasing body temperature and dissipates it in the cool night.

  • The ability of camel to allow its body temperature to fluctuate in response to some form of environmental stress saves significant amounts of energy and water.

  • The well-developed hump is full of fat that serves as a store of water and food at the time of starvation. The fat of hump gets dissolved gradually during starvation and collects again at the time the camel gets adequate water and feed.

  • The flat pads of the feet are horny and cushioned and help the camel to walk on the sand without making any sound while the feet of other animals sink into the sand. Due to this quality, the camel has been given the name as the 'ship of the desert'.

  • Camel feet are soft and friendly to vegetation. The hooves of cow or small ruminants are more aggressive to the soil and contribute more often to the degradation of the pastures in case of overgrazing.

  • The chest pad helps the animal to take rest on it while sitting on the ground. The rest of the body is saved from concussion against the ground. There are other pads at the knee and half joint and in front of the joint of thighs. These prevent the limbs from concussion against the ground.

  • The spines of all vertebrates of the thoracic region are long & high and make the hump, which is more developed than all other Brahman cattle.

  • The camel sleeps less and possesses great power of remembrance. It keeps in mind the harsh behavior, beating or even the abuses from the camelman and takes revenge at the appropriate time.

  • The male urinates in spurts while standing and urine goes back in between the hind legs and falls on the ground. Its refresh the femoral vein and decrease the heart temperature for water economy. This enables the animal to save itself from slipping in its urine.

  • Camels are hornless and lack gall bladder.

  • Camel has prominent eyes with a wide range of vision. They are protected by an overhanging upper lid with long eyelashes, which protect the eyeballs from powerful rays of the sun.

  • The upper lip of the mouth has a cut in the middle. The flaps of the upper lip not only help in catching the twigs (thin shoots of the trees and bushes) but also enable the nostrils to cover to keep out the sand and dust at the time of dust storms.

  • The ears are small but have a great power of hearing. Camel can hear and understand the voice of its herder from a long distance.

  • The camels are regarded as the most intelligent animals and can find out their way in the desert when there are no signs of road.

  • The Bedouin gives name Ata ullah to camel, mean the gift of God.

Besides above mentioned peculiarities, camel is always neglected among the policy makers. It attributes are never praised and no visible effort has been done for its development. Camel can be a good tool in the global environmental changing scenario and food insecurity situation. Camels are very much under threat and up to 25 of the camels are vanished in the last decade, especially in Asia. Only 2010 thousands of camels were dead because in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India of a new respiratory camel disease. In spite of many cries by the author and other friends no positive response was attracted. I hereby appeal the international bodies like FAO, IFAD and other organization to give proper place to camel in international policies for agriculture.

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About the Author
Dr Abdul Raziq, PhD in camel breeding and production. Author has been the part of international forums working on the livestock and agriculture issues. He is the president of the Society of Animal, Vet. and Envrionmental Scientists. The author is working for the LIFE Network also, which struggle for the rights of livestock keepers at global level.

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