Is Converting Desert into Cropland a Wise Decision?

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.

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. I personally do not like this idea because of some reasons, given in the ensuing lines.

  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.
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?

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.

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

Camel’s Flower (زهر) Tribulus is the Precious Flora of the Arabian Desert~ A Camel Ice-cream Species. Series 5

Tribulus is resilient, beautiful and important flora of the desert.

  • It is resilient to the hardiness of the climate and weather of the desert
  • Having medicinal value, directly and indirectly (use as a herb also indirectly through camel urine and milk)
  • it is perineal plant but sprouts in spring (March and April after rains)
Tribulus Plant
Very much liked by the camel, especially fresh sprouted with blossom in the spring after rains, therefore known as camel ice-cream species

Not only valued as camel food and ethnomedicine but tribulus is home to precious fauna of the Desert

  • Many types of fauna live inside and around the Tribulus plant
  • They either depend upon the nectar, or florescence or eat the leaves
  • Some makes burrows and home inside the plant to make it habitat
  • They are making a rich niche and ecosystem
  • They fabricate a very useful and efficient biological control

They have beautiful flowers and seeds

.The yellow flowers make it very attractive in the desert. It attracts the insects and birds from a far distance. The aroma of the nectar is also very appealing for the bees and wasps. The seeds are coated in a compound structure enriched with hair to maintain the moisture of the structure.

The pest of the plant

In the month of the February, they are very much affected by the small black insects like lice. The insects rely on the florescence for food and shelter. They drink the moisture and juice of the pedestal of the flowers.

Then the other factors, like other good insects, wind storm, birds and rain help the tribunals to get rid of the lice.

Here are the links of the articles about the camel ice-cream species in the link below.

  1. https://camel4all.blog/2017/12/17/the-ice-cream-species-of-plants-for-the-camel-and-goat/
  2. https://camel4all.blog/2017/12/17/the-ice-cream-species-of-plants-for-the-camel-and-goat/
  3. https://camel4all.blog/2017/12/21/part-2-ice-cream-species-of-plants-for-the-camel-and-goat/
  4. https://camel4all.blog/2018/06/24/plants-that-are-liked-such-as-icecream-by-the-camels-part-3/
  5. https://camel4all.blog/2019/05/23/plants-that-are-liked-such-as-icecream-by-the-camels-part-4/

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.

Camel Manure Compost Trial in Alain, UAE

Camel manure can revolutionaries the agriculture in many regions especially in the Arabian peninsula.

The camel manure collected from the milking parlor. The manure is slightly moist and best suited for compost. The manure from the milking parlor has the lesser quantity of the sand.

Camel manure is a treasure in reality but going waste, it is very unfortunate. In an article, I explained the whole story of the camel manure in the world, especially UAE. https://camel4all.blog/2016/02/02/camels-dungzfrom-waste-to-a-worthwhile-farming-agent/

Today (10/1/2019), I started a trial of the camel manure compost. I shall wait for 4 months and will open after that period. Then, we shall see the physical appearance, smell, texture etc.

The manure needs to be covered properly so that the air is out and we get a compost without smell.
I made a ditch in the desert, spread plastic sheet, put manure on it and covered it. Later on covered with sand to remove the air and press it tightly.
We dumped the manure with the sand. Now waiting for 4 months. The 2 blocks on both borders will indicate us the area where it was dumped.

I’m not an expert in this area, please always support me with your suggestions and comments. After we have successful compost, we shall make lab analysis.

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.

How to Chase the Camels’ Ticks?

Ticks are the blood-sucking insects and indirectly causing tick born diseases. The best way is to control through Biological means. They become very active in the night when there is dark and the weather is mild. I would like you also read the ethnoveterinary measures of the camel herders to control such troubleshooting.Ethnoveterinary treatments by dromedary camel herders in the Suleiman Mountainous Region in Pakistan: an observation and questionnaire study

Sometimes, you cannot see on the camels’ body in the daytime. You even do not notice if there are ticks near or on the camels. Here, I share some pictures (the steps and ticks’ pictures) which will help you in understanding.

Beautiful walkway of the ticks
The sign of footsteps of the ticks on the sand.

The best way is to control biologically;

  • The chickens if not provided other feed, they better eat the ticks.
  • All partridges, especially Guinea fowl also a good eater of the ticks.
  • Some wood oil application on the camels’ body
  • Some trees, like Loghone, is very good
  • Removing the unwanted waste material especially wood, hay, empty bags will also help in control.

Ticks hiding here somewhere
The ticks walkway in the sand

The Guinea Fowl
Guinea fowl with the beautiful chicks

Ticks hiding under the sand
The ticks hiding under the sand cake were chased out because of their footsteps.

The ticks sanctuary
The ticks are smart and hid somewhere under the shady place in the daytime.

Camel is an Artist

Hi camel lovers,
The people ask me, why the trees in the desert look so beautiful and straightly trimmed from the ground side? They really look very beautiful.

Prosopis tree deep in the desert
See how beautifully the tree is trimmed from the ground side.

Now see, how the camel makes it possible? This morning, I shot this picture when the camel was on its task making the tree beautiful. The camel eats from such precious plants. The roots of these plants are so deep, making them resilient in the desert and also taking micronutrients from the deep soil.

The camel Art of the Tree
The camel trims the tree from the ground side up to the level of his muzzle height.

Look! the camel is trying to reach the twigs to eat, such efforts of the camels making possible this beautiful art.

The camel effort
The camel is struggling to reach the lush twigs of the Ghaf tree.

In the above picture, you can see the camel is trying to reach the twigs (in the large circle on the left). This way camel pruning the trees up to his muzzle height. Ghaf (Prosopis cineraria) is the ice cream plant for camels. They like this tree very much. Plants that are Liked such as Icecream by the Camels. Part 1

See in the circle on the ground with a bush the camel also like but near the Ghaf tree the camel ignore this bushes and moves towards the Ghaf tree. The horizontal arrow indicates the straight level the tree is trimmed.

Image result for the beautiful tree in desert camel trimming
The tree is trimmed such beautiful in the desert 

The deserts trees roots are much deeper, therefore, their products are rich with minerals and other micronutrients, ultimately making camel milk special and super.

The Camel Milk Story from the Gobi Desert Mongolia

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.

img_51551-e1529573776340.jpgI 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.

A Bank advertisement with camel, the first thing I saw on arrival

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.

Me with Enkhie in Chansiz 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.Nomad house decorated with many camel medals

Gobi is a vast land with rich floral biodiversityThis 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.Bactrian camel is very good riding animal

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.

  1. Galba Gobiin Ulaan (Reddish colored camel)
  2. Khaniin Khestiin Khuren (Brown colored camel)
  3. Thukhum MTungologiin kKhos Zogdott Khuren (double line neck hair)

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Breeding Season

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

Months Conception Rate (%) Calving %age Avg. Milk (kg)
Jan 25 25 0.1
Feb 15 16 0.15
Mar 4 5 0.175
Apr 2 3 0.2
May 2 1 0.3
Jun 1 1 1.2
Jul 1 1 1.8
Aug 1 2 1.6
Sep 3 2 1.5
Oct 5 4 0.5
Nov 16 15 0.17
Dec 25 25 0.1

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

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Harmok

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).

The Camel Milk Story “Theme of the World Camel Day 2018”

Dear friends and colleagues,
Greetings from the camels’ world.
We, the camel activists celebrate world camel day since last few years. Different groups of the people celebrate this day it in the different parts of the world in different ways. The idea behind celebrating world camel day is to aware the public and the policymakers regarding the important role of a camel in the food security under climate change scenario. World Camel Day (June 22)
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Themes of Different Years
  • In 2016, the theme was “CAMEL FOR LIFE”
  • 2017, the theme was “Camel Journey from its original habitat to the modern world
  • 2018, the theme is “The camel milk story”
Anyone from any part of the world, who is interested to share his/er story can send it to my email, which will be shared via camel4all.com website with the name of the storyteller.
It is a great opportunity for the camel milk producing companies to share their stories (history and products etc) with the world.
Let’s celebrate this year world camel day as the awareness day for the precious milk of the camel.
Some link from the previous world camel days

Hope to hear from your side.

Beautiful Barela camel
A young camel herder with a Barela camel

This was an email, I sent to the camel people.

The Ultimate Choice or an Old Song with the New Drum?

I hereby to start a discussion about the selection of genetic resource for livelihood in the difficult ecosystems of the world. In my view, a true and durable sustainability of food production can be achieved with the tool of the local/native genetic resources embodied with the traditional knowledge. 

The Kharani camel in the Kharan desert
The best milk yielder in the deserted ecosystems

*Sustainability in true sense means ‘considering the hidden costs like water & carbon footprint along with the other environmental factors.

 Based on my experience and lifetime achievement, the native/local genetic resources are the only choice to ensure livelihood in a true sense of sustainability RESILIENCE OF NATIVE LIVESTOCK BREEDS TO CLIMATE CHANGE
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In the far and wide drylands of the world, local/native genetic resources are playing a pivotal role in sustaining livelihood in the difficult environments since unknown time. To me, the camel is one of the best choices among the best genetic resources.

Originally domesticated for food production, especially milk, the camel was later used for other purposes and the milk became the secondary product.

Good news, that camel is again turning towards its original task, the milk. Camel is no more the animal of the old world, but an animal which may be used to combat the growing desertification and to feed millions of people living in those regions. It has been shown that camels can provide 15-20 liters of milk per day for a lactation period of up to 18 months, making it a very good farm animal.

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Based on my personal experience of a camel farm for milk purpose, some camels can produce >12,000 kg milk per lactation (genetic potential) but the majority of population fall in >3,000 kg. The yield is sustainable in the true sense as camel consumes a lesser quantity of water/kg milk production. The same is true for the energy consumption as the camel doesn’t need weather comfort because of its special genes adapted to hostile weathers. 

Africa, the Climate Change Hot Spot

Studies conducted in the horn of Africa revealed that the camel produced more milk than the other types of tropical animals compared on the basis of kg/TLU/year. A wide part of the African continent is well familiar with the camel milk, and consider it the fluid of choice in all conditions. Camel Milk and Challenges of Modern Time; The Concept of Natural Health

Africa camel

The Treasure is Uncovered in Another Hot Spot

South Asia, especially dryland (Western India and a major part of Pakistan) are the worst affected by the climate change calamities. The great Thar Desert being the habitat of the world’s best milk camel is an uncovered treasure of the region. Badly neglected and hidden from the consideration of the policymakers. A Beautiful Camel Heritage is Sinking

The Camel Milk in Pakistan~An Example

Pakistan is home to 0.9 million camels with a 20% of lactating camel (herd composition) Livestock production and population census in Pakistan: Determining their relationship with agricultural GDP using econometric analysis. About 0.18 million camels give milk for a lactation (average 2,200 kg/lactation), producing around 396,000 ton of milk annually but had never been considered a documented food item in the grey records of the country. Per head basis camel in the country produces far better than the indigenous cattle/buffalo breeds, Frisian, and their crosses (in true measurement model).

Image result for best brela camel pakistan milk udder

Conclusion

The time has reached to know and exploit the true potential of native genetic resources like camel and to find the ways to sustain livelihood (in the true sense) of the generations to come. I would appreciate a positive and healthy debate to be initiated regarding the food production in a truly sustainable model under the climate change scenario.

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Plants that are Liked such as Icecream by the Camels. Part 2

Camel and goats like the salty and spiny species of plants. Such plants are also called ice cream species for camel and goats. In part 1, we discussed the fodder trees which are very much liked by the camels and goats. Here the bushes species will be briefly discussed along with the pictures.The Ice Cream Species of Plants for the Camel and Goat. Part 1

1. Leptadenia pyrotechnica (Marakh as local Arabic name, Bararra in Pashtu)

It is widespread from Africa, the Arabian peninsula to South Asia. The camel likes it very much because of its taste and flavor. When lush, it has higher contents of CP.

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The fiber of the plant is used for the treatment of gout and rheumatism

One picture tells different and multidimensional stories. Markh (Leptadenia) plant playing a multipurpose role, from halting creeping sand, provides shelter to insects, soil conservation to the camel food. The camels browse this Ice cream species of plant.

Marakh is a multipurpose plant, use for different aspects as well as food. I have started a new series of short films on the ice cream species of plants. The link to the video channel about the March plant is given below. Camel Icecream spp Marakh or Boom Bush (Leptadenia pyrotechnica)

22xBroom Bush

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The flowers are edible

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The bush is also considered as diuretic both in human and animals. Some camel keepers offer Markh to the male camel when they have urine obstruction problem. We the Pashtun people make chewing gum from this plant.

leptadenia pyrotechnica
A ticket of 50 fils by UAE government to endorse the role of this precious plant in the country

2. Zygophyllum (Zygophyllum qatarense)

A salt-tolerant plant of the Arabian Peninsula that grows as a rounded, dwarf shrub. In adaptation to retaining water in its saline environment, it has small compact leaves that are rather fleshy and succulent. The camel loves this plant because of 2 main reasons, the i.e. rich source of water and providing abundant salts.

tetraena

The plant is the real ice cream species for camel and goat. The only thing camel need in the hot dry environment of the region are the water and the salts and the plant is rich in these 2 nutrients.

Zygophyllum qatarense is a salt-tolerant plant of the Arabian Peninsula

Pharmacological Action and Toxicity

  • Diuretic and antipyretic
  • Anti-histamine activity
  • Healing constipation
  • The juice from fresh leaves and stems is used for the treatment of certain skin diseases
  • For lowering of blood pressure

The Ice Cream Species of Plants for the Camel and Goat. Part 1

The Beautiful Mongolian Bactrian Camel

I hereby share a video of beautiful Bactrian camels from Inner Mongolia China.Featured Image -- 3435

Plants that are Liked such as Icecream by the Camels. Part 1

Camel and goats like the salty and spiny species of plants. Such plants are also called ice cream species for camel and goats. Here, I share some special pictures of such species which I shot today during my morning walk.

Haloxylon salicornicum (Ramas)

In my homeland, this plant is known as Shorie (Pashtu). Beside the animal food, it is also used for the tannery at the local level to prepare skins for water storage and processing yogurt.Haloxylon salicornicum (Ramas), unique plant of desert landscape

The camel herders take their camels to graze on these plants when they notice salts deficiencies. The Pashtun camel keepers called the phenomenon of salt deficiency as ZALAM.

Acacia Tortilis (Samr, Samur or Salam)

One compound leave has more than 170 leaflets. Highly resistant tree of drylands and the desert. The camel and goats both like it. Such strong and resilient plants products give camels strong feelings of survival. TERRESTRIAL HABITATS

A Symbol of Resilience and Patience~The Acacia Tree of the Arabian Desert

Prosopis cineraria (Ghaf)

One of the important tree of the desert ecosystem. This tree is highly respected and cared about in the UAE. The father of the nation ‘Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan’ had very special adoration and care for this tree. During the development process of the country, the roads were designed to save the tree, especially Ghaf. Prosopis cineraria (Ghaf) tree and beautiful landscape.

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The crucial part of the desert ecosystems. This tree works as soil conservation and sand dunes fixation.

In the first picture, one can see the wall is curved to protect the tree. This tree is very strong and gets a very long life. Even the slightly attached broken branches survive for years.

This tree is very special food for the camels. Once in a year, the shoots are allowed to trim and offer to the camels. This trimming time is linked with the breeding season of the camels. The camel bulls like this plant very much and work aphrodisiac for them. This tree is widely found in Alain city and adjoining areas. The Resilient Genetic Resources~A Solution to Many Difficult Question

 

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The tree is protected during the road designing and construction in Alain, UAE
 These plants give special quality and taste to the camel milk. It enriches the camel milk with the unique minerals which plays the pivotal role in human physiology. The UAE vision is very appreciable, as the country is promoting sustainable management and conservation of plants and animal genetic resources. The policymakers of the other countries must learn from them.

Personally, I have great feelings towards biodiversity, especially the plants and trees liked by the camels. Once I launched a move to save the brutal cutting of the Tamarix tree in Lasbela region of Pakistan. Camel Peace Caravan for Conservation of Unique Tamarix Forest, Sindhi camel and coastal line plants

Picturing of the trees and other plants are the part of my new project ‘Treeography’

 

 

 

My Philosophy of Sustainability

The scientists think that the world will become severely crowded by century 2600 when power consumption could turn the planet into a sizzling fireball Stephen Hawking explains how we could reach Mars in less than an HOUR and Pluto in days. The air will turn red, dry and dusty. In my point of view, the camel will still accompany the human race. Please do not migrate to Mars as our mother earth is the more special. It is my dream, the mother earth can sustain with the help of the unique creatures it has. Among such creatures, the camel is the most prominent and special. My idea and my art ‘the philosophy of sustainability’. It really works, let belief in the native genetic resources to ensure our livelihood on our beautiful mother earth.

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