“When you keep the camels in farms, they eat from very narrow diversity of food, they are prone to mineral, vitamin and other nutrient deficiencies which we don’t understand,” said Dr Kakar, who in 2015 set up an organisation, Camel4Life, to promote the use of camels by the world’s poorer communities.
“We don’t really know the nutrient requirements at the farm, the disease challenges, and the exact treatment and the impact of the treatment on milk production and milk quality. This is a huge area of research in camels.
“We really do not know the exact gene or genes that are responsible for more milk. We don’t know what’s the heritability of which trait. In cows, we know.”
Another area of interest, said Dr Kakar, is how camels cope with extreme temperatures, something of ever-greater relevance as the climate warms.
“Genetics is behind this very special trait of the camel to adapt to very high temperatures,” he said. “There’s much need to study specialised genes of the camel that make it such incredible, very special livestock.
“The same [is true] of the camel’s power to resist dehydration. The camel’s blood cells are very different – they can absorb more water.
“We should understand the camel better. This is very important for the future of humanity – how the camel can survive the very challenging climatic conditions.”
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