Desert Gift -Heliotropium bacciferum 

The points I noted about the Helitrope

  • Botanical name: Heliotropium bacciferum
  • English: Helitrope, Turnsole
  • Arabic name: Ramram, رمرام,  ذنب العقرب
  • Pashtu name: پتنګانو مور (Mother of butterflies as it is flowing round the year)
  • Region of documentation: United Arab Emirates
  • Type of flora: Bush/shrub
  • Found in Arabian Peninsula, ME, Persia and parts of South Asia
  • Qualitative documentation based on personal experience and traditional knowledge: Highly tolerant to drought, salts (xerophyte & halophyte), soaring sun, pests, diseases and desert storm. Attract insects, flies and other wildlife by the attraction of white flowers. The camels run to the plant to eat for its high salts contents. The camel keepers like to feed the camels before racing.
  • Covered with white hairs, leaves dark green
  • Flowers in dense double rows (without fragrance)
  • Fruit appearing as a round whiteberry
  • Flowering practically throughout the year.
  • Common Name: Turnsole, Heliotrope

The shrub has some herbal and medicinal values and the desert dwellers had been using it for different health ailments. I would certainly keep struggling on the documentation of the traditional knowledge about the shrub but I have found very good reference (scientific) from literature which tell about the antioxidant value and anti-cancer agent.


The shrub is a key flora of the desert, an option hope for the desert revitalization and enriching drylands with the dark green flora. It guarantees food for the livestock, animals and wildlife in the desert ecosystems. It can be a very good and round the year flowering flora for the lawns in the urban areas. The herbal value can be a pharmacy in the future. The traditional practitioners recommend it feeding the camels before work or race. Please help me in identifying (further details, especially native traditional knowledge) and supporting my research work as it is for the wellbeing of desert, livestock, and humanity. Though I have found some information from native ethnoecologists and google but I still need help to sort it out.

Kharan Desert is a Treasure of Precious Livestock Breeds

The Kharani camel is one of the most important and multipurpose livestock of the region. The breed is smaller to medium in size with a promising potential of milk. Kharani camel breed is the most efficient (producing more milk per kg dry matter feed intake) and survives sustainably in a challenging environment. There is high variability within the breed for milk production. In the wet days of the year, when there is succulent vegetation, some specimens of the breed produce up to 38 liters of milk per day.

The world's leading milch camel~The Kharani
Kharani Breed, a Milk Treasure of Kharan Desert

Kharani camel is found in the Chaghai-Kharan desert of Balochistan Pakistan. Known by the name of Kharan Desert, it is a mountainous sandy desert situated in the Southwestern region of Balochistan, Pakistan. The region is the cradle of precious animal genetic resources like the Kharani camel and Morak goat.

Close to Wild, the Morak Goat

Morak Goat of Kharan region

Morak goat is close to wild ancestors, resistant to diseases, and owns a strong power of escape.

Map of Balochistan showing Chagai Kharan Desert

Landscape Degradation and Camel Depletion

Unfortunately, this breed is under severe threat. The main cause of erosion is the depletion of Thagaz (Halloxylon spp) which is the most important feedstuff for camels in the region. Also, there is illegal export (fertile female) to the neighboring countries, where it is slaughtered and consumed as meat. This way the erosion of these unique animal genetic resources is happening for many years. The policymakers of the province should take major steps to conserve this precious animal with the involvement of the camels’ keepers. The best way of support is to conserve the Thagaz forest. To understand the landscape, click on the link at the end of the paragraph. When you will watch this video, you will understand the importance of the Kharani breed, you will know the landscape/habitat and the threats to this precious camel.

Morak Goat Breed of the Chaghai Kharan Desert

Habitat: Chaghai Kharan desert especially Raskoh mountains of the region is the home track of the breed. The breed is very close to its wild ancestors. There are many tribes, rearing this breed of goat, which are Badeni, Muhammad Hasani, Maingul, Jamaldini, Sasoli, Sanjrai, Nothezi, Nausherwani, Malangzai, Siafad, Faqirzai, Hajizai,.

Phenotypic characteristics: The goat has medium size with black body coat, very rare specimen with white color is also found. The long curled horns, especially in the male with beard are the salient feature of the breed. The goat also produces reasonable amount of milk.

Vegetation: Vegetation of the area liked by the goat is comprising of Ghaz (Tamarix Articula), shrub as Taghaz (Haloxylon Amodendron), bushes like Hashwarg (Rhozya Stricta), Pog (Calegnum Polygonaides) Cotor (Stockcia Brohinca), Lara (Salsola Kali), Kandar (Alhogi Camelarum), Barshonk, Karwankush, Narronk (Salsola Arbuscula), Tusso (Gaillaina Aucheri) and grasses like Mughair (Atriplex Dimprphostegium), Kash (Sacchorum Siliare), Righith (Suoeda Monica) Shanaluk (Allium Rubellum). etc.The Ice Cream Species of Plants for the Camel and Goat. Part 1Part 2. Ice Cream Species of Plants for the Camel and Goat

Population: Population of the breed is almost 0.5 million. The population trend is increasing. Morak breed is one of the badly affected goat breeds in the province by the previous drought (1998-2003), as the drought was very severe in this ecological zone.Effects of Drought on Livestock Sector in Balochistan Province of Pakistan

Special Traits:

  • Close to its wild ancestors
  • It is very accessible to inaccessible areas for grazing, i.e. the peaks of the mountains
  • The animal is very alert and fast running, hence can’t be eaten by pest and predators. More close to wild ancestors
  • High milk production in harsh environment of the region in a very low input system of the ordinary grazing

Option Hopes: Close relation to its wild ancestors.

Morak goat of Kharan Washuk region

Economic importance: The most important breed for livelihood earning of the pastoral livestock keepers of the region. It provide milk in the harsh environment when the sheep milk yield ceased. It also provides cash by selling it, when the livestock keepers need cash money. The animal may attain good weight and attract good prices because of its more meat and height.

Kharani Camel Breed of Chaghai-Kharan Desert

Kharani camel

Kharani camel is found in the desert ecosystem of the Chaghai Kharan desert ecological zone. Kharani camel is one of the important camel breeds, well adapted to the desert ecosystem, and plays a pivotal role in the socio-economic and socio-cultural life of the pastoral people of that region. The breed has very deep roots in the culture of the Baloch tribes.

Production systems and socio-economic importance

The majority of the herds of camel are owned by nomadic and semi-nomadic herders. In wintertime, the nomadic and semi-nomadic owners migrate towards the east, up to the Bolan area of the province. After the rainy season of the monsoon in July and August, abundant vegetation is available there. The small farmers are mostly sedentary owners who provide supplementation in the winter season because of the low or even no vegetation availability in the region.

Kharani camel is one of the best milk producers in the world and produces up to 40 liters of milk per day. Milk is widely used in the region and therefore having high consumer preference. The milk is being used fresh, soured (Sorain), and added in tea. Strain is highly preferred and can be stored for up to one week without refrigeration. The same methodology is used in the countries of Central Asia and the product is known as camel Vodka locally.

Kharani breed of camel

Population size and trend

The population size estimated ranges from 9000 to 13000 and there is a speedy decline in the population. There are many factors responsible for this sad state of the situation, i.e. illegal export to Iran both male and female animals, a threat to the ecosystem of Kharani breed because of the deforestation and some herders now practice cross-breeding to produce Rodbari camel which is a good race animal in the desert. Such crossbred animal is highly liked by the smugglers which are being used for drug trafficking in the triangle of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran.

Breeding goal of the breed

The main breeding goal of the Kharani camel breeders is to produce camel with a high milk yield. The second major breeding goal is to produce camels well adapted to the desert ecosystem. The male camel is selected for breeding with the characteristics of higher milk, adaptation in the desert ecosystem, boor, or fawn color. Curly wool and hanging muzzle. The camel is medium in size with long black eyelashes. Long legs, neck, and oval foot pads are the salient feature of the breed. There are two special traits of the breed, i.e. milk production ability, drought resistance, and hardy against the high ambient temperature of the deserted ecosystem.

Table 1. Biometric parameters of Kharani breed (cm)

Body measurementsMaleFemaleMean
Head length403939.50
Head width2019.5019.25
Weather height175175.519.75
Thoracic girth197202175.25
Abdominal girth231250.7199.5
Tail length6054.7240.85
Ear length111157.35
Ear width6.56.711
Neck length9096.26.6
Rump length143.5146.993.1
Estimated weight398444145.2

Table 2. Reproductive and productive traits of the Kharani Camel

1Average birth Weight30-40 kg31 – 35 kg
2Average weaning Weight*165-180 kg.155 – 180 kg
5Ready for workload3 yr3 yr
7Use for heavy duty7-8 yr
8Age of puberty4 yr2.5-3 yr
9Average work-life25 yr
10Average reproductive life25 ye21 yr
11Conception rate out of herd50-53%
12Gestation  period375-386 day
13Calving rate out of herd45-50%
14Calving interval2 yr
15Average milk production17 kg/day
16Lactation length10-12 month
17Wool Production2 kg

Special traits of the breed

v  High milk yield in the hostile desert conditions

v  Resistant to trypanosomiasis.

v  Highly drought tolerant

 Phenotypic characteristics

Except for some non-descript camel majority of the camel, the population is composed of the Kharani breed. The name of this breed is derived from the famous Kharan desert. This breed is also called Boor locally because of its color (Fawn) as presented in the figure. There are many color patterns in the Kharani camel. The pastoral people know the importance of the color of a breed and correlate it with the specific trait. The colors are fawn, red-brown, white, and yellow. Phenotypic characteristics are given in a table 1.

Reproductive and productive performance

The male is ready for breeding at 4 years of age and the female reaches the time of mating at the age of 2.5-3 years. While the service period remains for 6 days and the estrus cycle ranging from one week to 4 weeks. The calving interval is normally two years and the average reproductive life of a female is about 20 years. The weight of the calf at birth is almost 30-40 kg, depending upon the sex, nutritional, and health status of the dam. Weaning weight at (12 months) is about 165-180 kg. The reproductive performance of the Kharani camel is presented in table 2.

Marketing and future economic potential

The respondents stated that the animals are sold in the local market of the town and rarely sell locally. The owners are really wise and had almost eliminated the role of a middleman. Though, the town merchant and butchers don’t pay good prices to the owners. Some smugglers buy local livestock at cheap prices and smuggle it to Iran and earn handsome money. The high milk yield is one of the best economic potentials of this breed.