The Camel Genetic Treasure of Iran

A series of camel stories from different regions of the world

Once, I asked my camel colleagues to share their country camel report as a tribute to world camel day, which is celebrated each year on 22nd June. As a series of World Camel Day’s gifts (information, pictures, and videos, etc) continue, this new report is hereby received from Mahnaz Salehi.

Mahnaz Salehi is a member of the scientific board of Animal Science Research Institute Animal fibers, skin and leather camel management specialist. Her report was converted and amended briefly. Here is the report about the camel status in Iran.

The camel Genetic Resources of Iran

There are almost 150,000 dromedary camels in Iran, mainly inhibited in the southern and central regions of the country.

Most of these camels still not been identified, because for extensive rearing system and the negligence of camels in most parts of the country. The other factor is camels are often mixed together and crossbreed by the other types of camels imported from Pakistan and Afghanistan for different purposes.

Therefore they are divided into 5 main CATEGORIES

  1. Multi-purpose breeds (meat, milk, wool, work, racing/riding and recreation)
  2. Milk type
  3. Racing or riding type
  4. Bactrian camels
  5. Bactrian and dromedary crosses

1. Dual Purpose Camels

Majority of the camels in the country fall in this category. The camel types in the southeastern parts of the country are mainly raised by the Balochi nomadic tribes, are dual pupose.

The habitat of this group of camels is mainly desert or rocky dry mountains. Some camels produce more milk than others like Zahidani and Dashti and Balochi breeds. They are equally good for loading & transportation, riding in difficult terrains and racing and recreations. Balochi communities prefer to keep the camels live and productive, only sell and slaughter when the camel is no more fit in their genetic goals.

Zahedani Camel breed, found in Zahidan region of the country and adjoining areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

a. Zahedani breed is found in Zahidan region of the country and adjoining areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. This breed is equally good for riding and transport. Goods are transported in border areas by Zahedani camels.

b. The Balochi breed is also found in the same region but this breed is better in milk production than other tasks of multipurpose. Some specimen camels produces more than 30 kg per day in the peak yielding period of the lactation.

Balochi Breed, a good milk animal. You can see the very strong, big and healthy udder.

Balochi camels are mainly found in central, east and south east at the border lines of Afghanistan and Pakistan. This breed is known as Kharani breed in Balochistan and very good in milk production.

Dashti camel.jpg
Dashti camel (Desert) found in the sandy desert of the Irani Balochistan

c. Dashti camel, their origin is in Boushher province (south of Iran) near the Persian Gulf. They are good riding camels in the desert and used as a transport animal in the desert.

Multipurpose Camel Breeds of the Central Regions of the Country

The camel breeds found in this region are also multipurpose in nature. Here, the top desired purpose is milk, followed by meat and transportation. These types of camels are beefy, massive and large body sized.

a. Kalkuei breed is found in the central region. The camel is massive in body size and also produce a considerable amount of the milk. The camels with huge body size produce good quantity of the milk. The body is is considered as directly proportional with the milk volume produced.

Kalkuei Breed of camel, good milk camel

b. Mahabadi camel is found in Isfahan province of the central Iran. The breed is good for riding and milk equally. This breed is also strong and compact in nature.

Mahabadi camel in Esfahan province in central
Mahabadi Camel Breed

c. Yazdi camel found in central of country in yazd province. Yazdi camels have tremendous potential of milk as a top purpose but equally good for riding and work.

Yazdi camel breed

Multipurpose Camel Breeds of the South West

Arabi Camel, the unique and strongest camel

Arabi camel found in Kozestan and Boushher provinces near the Iraqi boarder. They are good racing camels as well as ordinary riding. The breed also produce a good volume of milk and some specimen are very good milker. Also, some good number of Dashti camel breed is also found in this region.

2. The Milk Type Camel Breeds

Though all types of dromedary camels are very good in milk production but some breeds are super in milk volume production both on per day basis and the lactation basis. Two types of milk breeds are found in the country.

a. Turkmani or Torkumani, raising in Gonbad and Gorlestan province in North East of Iran and the adjoining regions of Turkmenistan. This camel is widely used by the Turkmen nomadic people of the region. Tukmani type is knows as Aravana breed. Aravana breed is specialized milk breed with short age at first calving and shorter calving interval compared to other breeds. The nomads make the specialized sour milk of this breed, called as CHAL.

Aravana breeds have sub-types with a creamy color which is even more good in milk production than the others.

Arvana breed, or Turkmani breed

3. Riding type 

As discussed before that all types of the camel can perform multipurpose tasks but some breeds are excelling in some tasks and the other in other tasks. The riding camels are used for the accessibility in the difficult terrains of the country where road network is not properly workable.

Bandari Breed (coastal)

a. Bandari camel breed is found in south at the coastal line of Persian Gulf. These breed is divided into two sub-types, riding (Jamaz camels) and pack camels. Their origin is south or south east of Iran near the Pak-Iran border. Unfortunately, the number of camels are decreasing of this breed like other fellow breeds in Rajasthan, India.

Bandari breed of Jamaz type, Sistan Balochistan

b. Jamaz of Sistani breed is actually the offshoot of the Bandari breed. Jamaz type is found in Sistan and Baluchestan, south-east along the border lines of Pakistan. This breed is also found in Pakistani Balochistan. This breed is very hardy and a good riding animal in the desert.

RoodBari camels

c. Roodbari camel and some other types of camels are found in the Kerman province in south of the country. This breed also found in the adjoining areas of Pakistani Balochistan. The breed is highly liked for riding both in Iran and Pakistan.

4. Bactrian (two humps) Camel (endangered)

Two hum Bactrian camels in Golestan (North of Country)
Different color types of Bactrian camels of Iran

5. Crosses of AxB (Arabian and Bactrian) MAYA

There are also around 1000 crossbreed camel for benefit hetrosis in central regions. Such camels are called as Maya. This cross is made to harvest the power of camel for work under challenging conditions. Such crosses are common among the long traveling nomads of Central Asia.

Crossbred (B male * D Female) in rural and station breeding farms

The pictures and data provided by Mahnaz Salehi –World Camel Day 2016, written and edited by Dr. Abdul Raziq Kakar.

14 thoughts on “The Camel Genetic Treasure of Iran”

  1. dear Dr Raziq
    special thanks for your valuable research on Iranian camel population.
    it was very use full in my PhD theses.
    warm regards

    1. Dear Pouya,
      I hope you are fine and well. It is a great pleasure hearing that from you, that my work is making values. I’m really happy for that and congratulate you from this end.
      Please send me the PDF copy of your work in case it is already approved and vailable.
      My best regards

  2. Pingback: CHAL~ A Traditional Camel Milk Product of Turkmens’ Cameleers – Traditional Animal Genetic Resources for Food Security Under Climate Change Influence

  3. Mujeeb ur Rehman Sohoo

    Great work is performed on camel breeds of Iran. The author is working since many years on the different aspects of production and potential .

  4. Pingback: Ecological Camel Farming – Supporting Aravana Camel Breeders in Turkmen Region of Iran – Camel4ALL

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