The saddle is one of the most important tool in camel transport and racing activities. A saddle made of wood or iron etc are placed on the back of the camel and use for working, racing, and other operations.
The story is hereby released at the eve of the World Camel Day 2018.
The author was invited by the newly established Mongolian Camel Milk Company. The group owns their camels in the desert as their half families live there with the precious livestock in the amazing Gobi.
I started traveling from Dubai airport (2 am, 20th April) and reached Ulaanbaatar on the 21st morning 7 am (Cengiz Khaan International Airport) via Moscow by Aeroflot. The 12 hours stay in Moscow Sheremetyevo airport was an excellent experience of life as I slept in a small cabin available on rent, the first time in my life.
Sanaa and Enkhie (the trip organizers) received me at the airport and took me to the hotel (Khuvsgul Lake). Today, the program was composed of some meetings in the UB city with camel scientists/researcher, businessmen and visiting Changiz Khan Museum.
Travel to South Gobi Desert
Next day, we traveled for more than 10 hours by road and reached South Gobi region. We traveled another 1:30 hour to reach the nomad Ger (house). The nomad family warmly welcomed us and we stayed overnight there. I slept in the Ger first time.
This time period of the year, the nomads do not milk the camels but to let the calf take it and get stronger. The Bactrian camels have beautiful small teats with a strongly attached compact udder.
Seeing Camels and Interviewing the Herder
Next day, I woke up in the morning and went to the camels. They are still roaming near the Ger with their calves. The calves are tied. I observed the calves and the dams and found them very healthy and stronger.
Types of camel
There are 3 types of Bactrian camels in the region, i.e.
Galba Gobiin Ulaan (Reddish colored camel)
Khaniin Khestiin Khuren (Brown colored camel)
Thukhum MTungologiin kKhos Zogdott Khuren (double line neck hair)
The breeding season starts in October and reached the peak in December and slowly decline and cease in April. Usually, one Bull is enough for up to 70 she-camels. The details of the production traits are given in the table below.
Table: The Production Traits of the Bactrian camel in the region
Conception Rate (%)
Avg. Milk (kg)
The table clearly indicates the breeding season, calving percentage, and the milk production. The Camel Milk is lower in quantity, producing from 1-3 liter/day but the milk is thick and full of energy to give special strength to the calf to survive in challenging environment. The average milk production based on my survey is 640 ml/day with lactation yield 233 kg. The lactation here calculated on the annual basis but in actual, the camel produces for up to 8 months.
Camel Milk Products
The nomads use camel milk as fresh directly. The surplus is converted into fermented product (Harmok). The Harmok is used very widely and some products are available in the market in Ulaanbaatar. For further details about Bactrian milk, you can go to the link Detailed Nutritional Composition of Bactrian Camel’s Milk
The surplus Harmok is converted into CM Vodka and the residues are used to make Curt. The curt and Vodka is offered to the guests as a unique product of the Gobi.
The Attachment of Nomads with camel
The nomads love their camel very much. They call it Temeh in the Mongolian language. They use camel for riding, racing, festivals, wool, and also for meat (in rare cases).
Terminologyis the study of terms and their use. Terms are words and compound words or multi-word expressions that in specific contexts are given specific meanings.
The camel terminology is mainly derived from a cow/cattle production system in English, which is a wrong approach. I’m giving you a food for thought to reconsider and re-establish camel’s terminology. As the camel was domesticated, evolved and managed for centuries in Arabian Peninsula, the best terminology will be the one used in that region.
The Lasbela region is covered with more than 12% with wide flora diversity, especially unique Tamarix and Jar species. The woodcutter brutally cut these precious forest trees and sell at very cheaper rates in the nearby towns. Hence, deforestation is happening in a very speedy way. With an appealing thematic area, I am trying to divert woodcutter camel communities to use the camel as a touristic opportunity. From main RCD road to the river of Kerri, there is a long camel route, now declared as camel peace caravan. In this way, the camel woodcutters will divert from their hard job to a nice and easy job of the camel caravan. I hope, we can attract more and more people to enjoy this unique touristic opportunity.
As a starting point, I and other two colleagues from the Lasbela University started first Camel peace caravan from the campus to Kerri on 3rd May (2014) and came back the next day. All the pictures are already released on my facebook page. The link is given above in the camel peace caravan.
Camel is an integral part of the Balochistan’s culture and heritage. Lasbela region of Balochistan is well known for its culture, heritage, and camels. Rich with a wide diversity of flora and fauna, Lasbela is the home tract of two camel breeds (cultural notion). Both breeds are briefly discussed in the ensuing lines.
a. Lassi; It is a pack animal, mostly use for wood and other types of transportation, especially use by wood cutters. The animal is also used for meat production. This camel is widely used for meat in the region. The demand for the male animal is quite high at the Islamic ritual of Eid Adha which is one of the main support for the conservation and development of this breed. As its role as a beast of burden is diminishing, the demand for its meat is the future hope for this precious breed. Lassi Breed of Camel In Balochistan
b.Bhirdi; The tribe of breed keepers and camel breed names are the same. This camel is usually used for riding in deserted ecosystems. It is smart and unique animal and milk is by-product use by the pastoralists in the weathers when others animals’ milk is ceased.
Camel is still and will be an integral part of the Lai people’s culture. To advocate the role of the camel in its true habitat of Lasbela, this precious animal can be a very useful source of earning for the marginalized people. Otherwise, they will continue the process of deforestation which will be a great loss for the precious biodiversity of the hot spot of coastal landscape of the country. Camel peace caravan is one of the important initiatives not only to halt deforestation but also to use this animal of peace for the further strengthening of peace and brotherhood in the region.
The International Camel Conference (ICC) under the patronage of Camel Association of Pakistan and the Islamia University of Bahawalpur was organized in Baghdad campus of Islamia University (19-21 Dec 2013). Bahawalpur being the city of the great Thar desert and home of camel culture was the right choice for this event. Many scientists, research scholars, camel herders and students from different universities and institutions participated in this important event on the camel. Many animal scientists, students and camel herders from Balochistan province also participated.
FAO Balochistan chapter sponsored a group of camel herders and L&DD officials to participate in the conference. The conference was very versatile of its nature, not only covered the camel science but provided a good opportunity to camel people to know about the camel culture of great Thar desert which is famously known as the Cholistan. The vice-chancellor of the IslamiUniversityty (Dr Iftikhar) was very kind and humble while providing all the best facilities and opportunities to the conference participants. Camel scientists from 7 different countries also participated.The Desert’s Livestock Species Have Tremendous Potential for Milk Produciton
The scientists presented their work on camel culture, milk production potential, milk characteristics, camel breeds and breeding, diseases and economic opportunities etc. The local media covered the event in a very nice way and kept the country audience and viewers aware regarding the conference. At the end of the camel conference, the following recommendations were suggested.
To maintain camel genetic and production diversity with the involvement of the camel herders and policymakers
To maintain camel habitats, especially Cholistan desert intact and safe from land grabbing etc
The slogan of ‘DESERT SHOULD REMAIN THE DESERT‘ was given for Eco-conservation of Camels and ‘SAVE PASTROLISM
More interaction development among the camel people, camel scientists and policymakers should initiate
Research on camel diseases and other health issues should initiate and coordinate with the international bodies in this field
Publication of full-length articles of the abstracts received in ICC-2013 in a peer-reviewed journal
Industry Liaison for Value Addition of camel products
Enhanced collaboration with foreign camel researchers and institute
Camel conference was a great opportunity, except the bad weather with the heavy fog. At the end of the conference, the meeting of the CAP was organized and some decisions were made. The decisions of the CAP are given in the ensuing lines.
The foreign scientist (not more than 5) will be invited purely on merit basis to make it more worthwhile and fruitful
The meeting was held on 21st Dec at 8 pm
I suggested a seminar (with very specific title) and with very specific number of participants
The seminar will be in the month of Jan or Feb 2015, as the next ISOCARD is in June 2015 Almatay Kazakhstan
The venue of the meeting will be decided later but most probably, Karachi, Uthal, Quetta or Lahore
CAP member list will be compiled according to the registered members in 3 categories, i.e.
category A. Scientist/Activist/NGOs
Category B. Camel Herders
Category C. Students
Next election will be held on the occasion of the Seminar in 2015
The CAP registration amount, other income and expenditure if any, will be compiled and will be present to the cabinet
A Skype/online consultative meeting of the willing CAP members or other scientists to highlight/fix and mention the priority areas on camel in Pakistan
I am very pleased now, as the importance of camel is being appreciated in Pakistan. In the climate change context and challenge of food security; camel is the best choice to accept these challenges.
Camel is a useful and pivotal animal in its habitats all over the world. Best suited to drylands, camel is a unique animal providing livelihood and cultural luxury to the inhabitants of that region.camel had been using as a gift of dowry but first time in history gifted as the reward to the cricket players. Finance Minister of Balochistan province of Pakistan announced to give camel to each cricket player of Pakistani team as the reward for winning series from India. We the camel people are happy as the camel is getting importance among the policy makers and politicians of the country.
The camel farm (Gyttorp, central Sweden) consists of 3 camels; named as Kalle, Karlsson, and Anna owned by a couple, Inger Haglund and her husband Per-Ola Magnusson. The camel depends on berry bushes, grasses, and trees for food.
The couple is heading this small herd of camels since last few years and uses it for riding and other eco-touristic purposes. The camels are a new entry in the Swedish landscape. According to Inger, It’s much easier to handle them and they have developed very much with the riding. The couple has a dream that someday there might even be camel racing in Sweden.
For further reading, please go to the links below.
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.
This breed of camel belong to Pashtun/Afghan Kochis (nomads). They travel from central Afghanistan to north-east Balochistan. Some nomads even cross Suleiman mountains and inter in Indus delta. Some tribes of the Kochis cross Bolan pass and enter in Kachhi area of Balochistan and some go further and inter in Sindh province.
Unfortunately, some Kochis are leaving camel culture and adapted tractors for luggage transportation because of the hinders in the historic routes and war and conflict in the region.
Camel is one of the important modes of transportation for the nomad (Kochis) who travels longer with their livestock, especially sheep and goats. The Gaddai or Pahwal breed of camel is unique of its kind and highly resistant to foot rots in cold wet weather, walks longer distances and can exist in cold and wet weather with scarce feed and water resources. The word Gaddai is derived from Pashtu (the Afghan Kochis mother tongue), meaning compact and round. Pahwal is the word use for Kochis in some Pashtun tribes. The milk production potential is lower, ranges from 3-10 liter per day but the higher variation is the option hope of a medium dairy potential.
Some tribes of the Kochis cross Bolan pass and enter in Kachhi area of Balochistan and some go further and enter in Sindh province, use the Indus river banks and adjoining areas for grazing of their livestock and the nomads work in the crops of local farmers.
Unfortunately, some Kochis are leaving camel culture and adapted tractors for luggage transportation because of the hinders in the historic routes and war and conflict in the region. Also, the land grabbers deforested the Indus banks and grabbed the lands for the cropping, especially the cotton crop.Floods, river Indus and the local livestock breeds in Pakistan
Some tribes replaced camels with the tractors, while the others use a donkey for this purpose. The donkey is equally good and strong transport animal but the longer distances really need the incredible camel.
This breed is under threat because of many reasons, all are manmade. Gaddai is one of the strongest breed/lines of a camel in the region. The British empire chose this breed of the camel to export to the Australia and used in terrain rugs of the country for heavy transport. The Australian camels are mainly composed of this breed.
Camel is not just a source of earning livelihood and food security but a main player in cultural and recreational goodwill of the camel’s pastoralists in its habitats. In Pakistan, camel is being enjoyed for many recreational purposes but dancing is one of the most important and unique event, especially among Marrecha camel paternalists. The Marrecha camels’ pastoralists are very fond of camel dancing and practice annual events to share the performance of their elite camels. According to Marrecha pastoralits, their camels are the best in learning dancing and even other commands. They define their camels as obedient & humble and good in learning different commands. Marrecha camel quickly learn dancing, riding/racing in desert and even working commands in the agricultural fields and densely populated cities’ street. This breed of this camel is highly liked by the people of Cholistan and its adjoining areas for accessibility in desert, beauty of gesture and good learning ability. To read more about Marrecha camel and Cholistan please click the links below;
Kohi camel is predominantly found in Suleiman mountainous region of Balochistan, Pashtoonkhua and Punjab provinces of the country. Some specimens are also found in the Paktia province of Afghanistan. But 70% of the breed is found in the Balochistan province.
Production systems and socioeconomic importance
There are three major camel production systems in this region viz; nomadic, transhumant or semi-nomadic and sedentary. Socio-economic importance of camel is closely associated with existed production systems. These systems are largely determined by climatic conditions, a topography of the land, plant growth phenology, water sources, etc. As the camels are always on the move, they hardly spend more than one month at one place.
The Kohi camel plays a pivotal role in the socio-economic activities of the region. It is used in the high mountains of Suleiman mountainous series for the transportation of various items. The animal is well fit for work in that hilly land and the broad wide cannon bone make it well to do in that habitat. Camel is also used for the pastoral migration and milk production. Mangrota camel fair is one of the largest camel’s socioeconomic and cultural activities of the camel herders of Kohi breed. The herders manage camel movement and migration pattern according to the onset of the fair.
Population size and trend
The Kohi camel breed is one of the major camel breeds in the country. This breed is found in the other provinces of the country also. The estimated number of this breed in Balochistan province is almost 70,000 head. This breed still has the importance for transportation and milk are the byproducts, nevertheless, it produces an average of 10 liters of milk per day. The breed is growing and there is no threat to the population of Kohi camel, though the ecosystem of the breed is under threat.
Breeding goal of the breed
One of the major breeding goals is the production of vigorous and compact animal for work in the mountainous region. The breeders select usually male camel and there is no choice for female. All the females are being bred, as the breeders believe that male animal play role in the breeding of the camel. Milk production is the second major breeding goal because more milk is the security for the healthier calves and ultimately production of the vigorous camel. The other traits of selection are the white color, beautiful muzzle, curly wool, strong wide cannon bone and wide chest.
Special traits of the breed
Compact body, strong hindquarter, wide cannon bones and strong foot pad making it specially fit for mountainous ecology
Survival in cold weather without housing
Browsing in the small area when vegetation is available (easy care and accessible)
White nails and yellowish eye color
More weight per unit body area (Compact)
Highly resistant to diseases locally called as syed
Its white color is the phenotypic marker for more milk yield
The animal is very loyal and loving to the owners
The Kohi camel is predominantly white in coat color but some animals locally are known as Spole color (light brown with white legs) are also found. The Kohi camel has white nailed either it is white or Spole coat color. The animal has a compact body, wide cannon bone, big beefy head and short neck. The herders believe that the white color of Kohi camel produces more milk than Spole (brown body white forelegs) animal and a part of this study proved it valid. The phenotypic characteristics of the breed are presented in table 9.
Reproductive and productive performance
The male is ready for breeding at the 4 years of age and female reaches to the time of mating at the age of 3 years. About 50 she-camels are normally bred by one bull camel. While the service period remains for 6 days and estrus cycle ranging from one week to 4 weeks. The conceived she-camel changes her behavior on the 6th day of service and shows a different behavior as erecting her tail when an animal or a person comes near to her. Calving interval is normally two years, depending upon the availability of foliage and lactation length. Average reproductive life of a female is about 20 years. Conception rate of a camel is higher with appreciable calving percentage and rare abortion. A weight of the calf at the birth is almost 35-45 kg, depending upon the sex, nutritional and health status of the dam. Weaning weight at (9 months) is about 155-180 kg. The reproductive and productive characteristics of the Kohi camel.
Table Biometric parameters of the Kohi breed
Table Reproductive and productive and traits of the Kohi Camel
Average birth Weight
32 – 40 kg
31 – 40 kg
Average weaning Weight*
160 – 185 kg
155 – 180 kg
Ready for workload
Use for heavy duty
Age of puberty
Average reproductive life
Conception rate out of herd
Calving rate out of herd
Average milk production
Marketing and future economic potential
The animals are grazing in uplands of Suleiman region since March to the end of the September and after that, the animals who ready for sale are moved to the (male) fair of Mangrota, while rest of the animals are moved to the lowlands of Suleiman region and the adjoining areas of Sibi region, where they spend the autumn and winter season. Mangrota animal fair is the biggest of the area and the biggest sale point for the Camels.
The Kohi camel has very good economic potential in future. The camel meat has good taste because of the nature of the vegetation browsed. The Kohi meat is already famous in the pastoral families and has very good potential for export.