Desert ecology, floral survival, and camel grazing – Impacts and the future hopes


This blog is about a bush in the desert (Tetraena qatarensis synonym Zygophyllum qatarense) which gives us a hope to sustain life in the desert.

3 Actors and the Desert sustaintion

While exploring & understanding the arid regions, you will notice that 3 actors are very important and are strongly correlated to each other, i.e. the prevailing flora, the possible grazer (grazing animals), and the sustainability (desert’s functional ecosystem). The pressure of grazing, annual rainfall, the existence of the fittest flora, and the soil texture have very direct and visible impacts on the biomass of the ecosystem which later drives sustainability.

Some flora are more resilient than the others

Being a desert explorer, I have always noticed that some flora are more resilient and stronger than others. They are more adapted and better cope with the prevailing threats and have learned how to survive and sustain and the Zygophyllum qatarense is one of them. It gives a very stunning beauty to the desert and supports wildlife. https://arkbiodiv.com/2021/11/12/how-zygophyllum-qatarense-support-wildlife-and-livestock-in-the-desert/

Zygophyllum qatarense is a highly reseleint plant/flora in the deserts of Arabia and Persian gulf region. It is equally adapted to the salty soil and very dry and arid conditions.
This shrub of Zygophyllum is out of the reach of camels, so it will well-grown taller. It can grow taller up to 1 meter but it prefers to spread and cover more area and ensure its sustenance in the arid ecosystem

Zygophyllum is a future hope in the desert

Zygophyllum qatarense is the future hope for the existance of the functional ecosystem in the desert. No animal can vanish this flora from the desert. Very few animals, especially camels and goats like to eat this plant but go to the other types of bushes after taking a few bites from Zygophyllum. In the following gallery of the Z. qatarense, you can see the top twigs have been bitten by camels but the main part and stronger area of the plants are still standing firm. I have a good hope that this resilient bush will sustain in the desert for millennia in the future. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Izc8O6tdj5A

We have very good examples of the sustainability of Zygophyllum as we can see in the following images that the other plants like Tribulus terrestris (puncture vine), Leptadenia, and desert grass (Cyperus) are shortened by continuous grazing as the camels take more bites from the same plant and consume it on daily basis because of the taste and likeness of the flora (Tribulus and Cyperus grass). Zygophyllum is always strong and resilient and sustains greenery in the desert. https://arkbiodiv.com/2017/01/08/the-strong-and-resilient-plant-of-desert-zygophyllum-zygophyllum-qatarense/

Camel lovest to eat the salty and woody bushes but zygophylum is still not highly desirable

Camels have learned (through the long history of evolution) the art of survival in the driest and harshed climatic conditions of the desert. As the deserts have limited diversity of flora, mainly bushes, followed by shrubs and trees are highly resilient in the desert ecosystem, mostly saltish in taste, full of thorns, bitter, full of molecules depressing appetite (alkaloids) of the animals, etc but the camel can still browse and consume such unique plants.

Some plants like Zygophyllum qatarense are well adapted to salinity, droughts, desert storms, and the pressure of grazing by its appetite depressing nature but the camel still browse and consume, especially when the camel is feeling salt hunger or constipation. In salt hunger situations, Zygophyllum is an icecream species for the camel. The camel browses it on the top, takes some bites, and moves forward. It does not take more bites and the plants remain strong and sustainable. https://arkbiodiv.com/2017/12/21/part-2-ice-cream-species-of-plants-for-the-camel-and-goat/amp/

Zygophyllum qatarense is the desert’s beauty

Zygophyllum qatarense gives a unique beauty to the desert and I have always suggested planting this flora in the lawns because of its beauty and power of survival. It doesn’t need any inputs like watering, spraying for pesticides, and other care, so it is feasible to maintain a beautiful lawn. This flora is highly adapted to the dry and hot weather of the deserts. It can be a wildlife sanctuary on your lawn. https://arkbiodiv.com/2021/11/06/a-desert-adapted-bush-zygophyllum-qataranse/

Way forward

At the moment, I have lost some pictures, camel eating Zygophyllum but I’m quite optimistic that soon, I shall be able to share with you. Please consider my suggestion, planting native plants like Leptadenia, Haloxllon, Zygophyllum, and other shrubs and trees in your lawns so that your kids are enriched with the knowledge of native flora and fauna as the native plants act as a wildlife sanctuary. The local people in Arabia and Persia have been using this plant for various purposes, ranging from medication (human and animals) to disinfecting/cleaning clothes and other stuff, and insect repletion to rodents control.https://arkbiodiv.com/2021/11/14/zygophyllum-qatarense-is-nomads-medicine-in-the-desert/

Is Converting Desert into Cropland a Wise Decision?


Converting desert into cropland – good or bad

Recently watched a video, Chinese colleagues are converting desert into cropland. Developing deserted lands is a very good idea but converting into croplands is rather a bad idea. Being a desert explorer, I’m personally not agree with this idea because of some reasons, given in the ensuing lines.

Converting desert into croplands

The reasons why desert should not be converted into the cropland

  1. Deserts are not zero valued or waste land. The ancestors of many staple foods’ seed and livestock species are inhibited in the desert.
  2. The deserts are historically and traditionally grazing lands. The precious and highly adapted and multipurpose native livestock evolved into the present day breeds in the desert. Such livestock is the answer to the difficult and complex challenges of the climate change.
  3. Deserts not only inhibits the precious plants and animal genetic resources but provides fascinating beauty to the landscape.
  4. Deserts have their own identity on the surface of the earth. It provides unique environments to many seasonal and migratory animals in different time periods of the year.
  5. Deserts play role in the weathering and energy flow of the planet (though not many references).
  6. A corporate and massive agric farming will destroy the overall health of the desert and the precious floral genetic resources can be vanished as well as the animal genetic resources.
The healthy camels in beautiful desert
Desert is not only a beautiful landscape but provides opportunity for livestock roaming and grazing like camels. Desert is very beautiful with its sand dunes and unique camels.

Then what can be done the best with the desert?

  1. The top suggestion can be the re-vegetation of the wild species of flora which are already adapted to the specific climatic conditions of the relevant desert/s.
  2. Fixation of the dunes, minimizing the intensity of desert storms, and covering certain/specific areas with the organic layer cover can be revolution.
  3. The innovation and science loving countries can use smart and sustainable methodologies to provide organic cover to certain areas of the desert. Like in UAE, the camel manure can be use to make organic covering bricks to cover the sand. https://camel4all.blog/2016/02/02/camels-dungzfrom-waste-to-a-worthwhile-farming-agent/amp/
  4. The organic pads can be used as a ball for seeds. The seeds will grow very well in the organic pads and will sustain its growth and development in the coming years. Enveloping seeds (native to desert) into the organic pads like the farmers practice in floating agric in Bangladesh. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5MKlSoubOY will bring a revolution in the desert.
  5. Plantation of native trees and bushes like Prosopis, acacia, and haloxyllon, etc. can provide very good woody cover to the desert and minimize the intensities of the storms.
  6. Such vegetation in return can support feeding to the native livestock and wildlife.
Richgreen Desert after the Rain
The flora is the most important genetic resource in the whole planet earth but the deserts even need more floral diversity to give life and beauty to the desert.

Important Note

My take on this issue is not for criticism but for the development of understanding about the deserts and starting a debate to have the technical opinion on this important topic.

The desert vegetation including trees are playing multipurpose roles, from food to protection.

Why Bactrian Camel has two Humps and Arabian has one?


Daniel Asked a Question from Mexico


Dear Daniel, I hope you are fine and well. I’m really fascinated, hearing your very interesting and unique question which was seldom asked before. As much as I know, here is my response.
Before going in the details of the answer, I want to tell you one very interesting fact about the camels nomenclature. One hump camel is dromedary (D) camel, if you rotate D towards left side, it will make one hump. The 2 humps camel is Bactrian (B), if you rotate B to left side it will make 2 humps.
I’m sure that you know Bactrian camel lives in the region which is one of the harshest and coldest terrains on the earth, one of the coldest and driest deserts. The Hump is actually a gift of nature to the camels to adapt and survive in the hardiest and challenging ecosystems. The humps provide energy and water when there is no vegetation for food. As the Bactrian camels live in the ecosystem which has prolonged dry and prolonged cold weathers, they need double treasure of fats to cope such challenging weathers.
The dromedary has one as it is enough for the dry conditions of the year but the other hump is missing because there is not harsh cold weather in its ecosystem.

Camel has got a very special body, physiology and behaviors to not only survive in harsh climatic conditions but to provide food and accessibility to its keepers.

I hope you have got your answer. For further details you can contact me anytime again.
Best regards

The Floral Diversity of the Desert


Deserts are the rich lands on the earth treasured with the well-adapted unique floral and faunal diversity.

The strongest, resilient, and very beautiful Ghaf (Prosopis) tree deep in the desert. See how strong she stands and faces the desert storms.
See the strength of the Ghaf tree, the national tree of the United Arab Emirates.

Desert Provides Comfort and Habitat to Many Beautiful Flora and Fauna


Desert is not a hell of sand but a beautiful paradise for a wide and diverse floral and faunal biodiversity. Here, I share some pictures of the desert. I took these pictures in the different time period during my desert exploration walk.

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You can see different views of the desert in the pictures in the above slideshow.

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Here you can see different plants of the desert, some with the fruits. You can see the steps of the Gazal in one picture. I think Ghazal eats Calitropis (Akk) leaves, please correct me if someone really knows. 

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Here in the above slideshow, you can see different beautiful plants. These plants are highly palatable and the camel-like it very much.

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Different flowers with shining beauty in the sand. They provide a fascinating view of the desert. Such flowers are attraction and source of nectar to very tine creatures (see in the next slideshow).

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Beautiful small insects can be seen in the flowers and on the seed as well.

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The specialized roots of the desert flora. See the Prosopis tree is resisting to the desert conditions with the support of its strong roots.

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Strong, multi and scattered roots. Some roots have the sponge like fiber coated on the roots to absorb and retain moisture.

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The Desert explorer, this big rough and tough stick really helped me.

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And when the mother earth calls back the creatures.

Conclusion

Please love mother earth. Think positively. See the beauty and use your beautiful chamber of the brain. Do not throw rubbish in the desert, the tinny creatures suffer.