The camels’ caravan in the sea – The swimming camels (Kharai) of Sindh Pakistan

All the photos are share by and credited to camel lady Valeri Crenshaw. She is on camel tour to one of the largest camel country Pakistan.

Kharai camel of Sindh Pakistan
Kharai camels are found in Tatha coastal region of Sindh Pakistan, especially in Kharo region (salt land).

Swimming camels browse on mangroves’ forest

They swim up to three kilometres in the shallow seas to reach their grazing land – the region’s mangroves. They are well adapted to the coastal ecosystem. Generally camels are found in the desert and their foot well adapted to the sands which support them in the coast as well. You can watch a very beautiful video story of BBC on the Kharai camels in Gujrat state of India.

Swimming camels of coastal region in Pakistan
Swimming camels of coastal region in Pakistan

The major portion of this breed found in the coastal areas of Sindh Pakistan but there is a reasonable number of the breed in Gujrat state of India. In India the breed is under threat because of the industrialization of the historical grazing lands.

Kharai camel breed of Indus Delta
Kharai camel breed of Indus Delta

Some salient features and potential of Kharai camel

The camel has medium-sized body, with comparatively longer necks & legs , and well developed barrel like thorax. The average milk production is 5 kg per day. The Kharai camel is one of the strongest and the most powerful draft camel in Sindh province.

Phenotypic parameters reported from Gujrat studied by NGO Shahjeven.

The Kharai camel breed is under threat in its original habitat of Indus delta

The Manchar lake, Kharai camels, and many other flora and fauna biodiversity of the Indus delta are under threat, the main reason is climate change and low level flow of the Indus River. The breed is also under threat in Gujrat. The human greed for land, industrialization, and deforestation are the manmade crisis threatening this precious breed of camels.

The cameleer is herding his camels to reach the mangroves for browsing

The positive side of the story is that during the last decade, we have noticed awareness about this breed. You can find many stories, articles in the media during this period both from Pakistan and India. Here you can see different reports about the Kharai breed.

Camel caravan in the sea, Gujrat India. Photo credit; The Guardian

The Camel Dairy Queen – Khawar breed of Salalah Oman

Synonyms: Khawarah and Dhofari camel breed

Habitat of the Breed – Land of Frankense is the Land of Khawarah

The Khawar or Khawarah breed of the camel is found in the Southeastern Arabian Peninsula but the herds of true specimen breed are found in the Dhofar region, especially Salalah. The nucleus herds of the breed with purity are found in the mountainous region of Salalah, where they can browse on good woody vegetation of combtree (anogeissus dhofarica), Acacia, and other trees and shrubs. Dhofar is centric on the frankness trade and history of the region. Almost 60% of the Omani camels are inhibited in the Dhofar region which is predominantly comprised of the Dhofari or Khawar breed followed by MAHALI (a thorough crossbred of Khawar, Majaheem, and Brela). Such a combination is also called a MUHAJAN or Majajan.

Ecological zones of Dhofar governorate.

Salient features of the Khawarah camel

Khawarah camels are beautiful, having dark brown, light brown, fawn, reddish, white, and creamy red colors. The color diversity comes with the diversity of landscape and ecosystems. With a medium-sized head, the breed has a deer’s mouth (Their lower lip is not hanging like other fellows of the desert). They have a medium head with a medium-sized neck and ears.

Almost 2 meters high, the body is slightly longer than the high and the camel has a very prominent barrel-like thorax, making it an excellent dairy camel. The camels have very beautiful angular ribs making a 45 degree against the vertebral columns. Medium in size, ranging from 250 to 350 kg live body weight. The size is slightly larger in the plain lands than in the mountain ecosystem, ranging from 300 to 400 kg live body weight. The breed is very friendly in nature and the cameleers treat them as their family member.

Beautiful Dhofari Naqa in Salalah Oman
The camels in Salalah are predominantly comprised of Khawar or Dhofari breed. They are highly adapted to the mountainous ecosystems and rely on the local vegetation and thrive very well.

Why Khawarah is a good dairy camel?

Like other camel fellows, Khawarah is a multipurpose animal, performing many tasks for their owners but the milk production tops the other features in the Khawarah camels. There are some very important arguments proving it is a fashoosh camel. Fashoosh means a friendly camel with highly desirable teats and udder with very easy milking.

Image of the teat anatomy of the Fashoosh and Ghamoos teats’ types

A Future dairy camel

Based on my personal long experience with the dairy camels, our best high-yielding and easy milking camels are mainly from the Khawarah breed. I have been working with the world’s most modern and pioneer camel dairy in the world. They have medium-sized teats with strongly attached but deep udder. The teats are conical in shape and very well fit for the machine milking. They have very good milking ability and shorter actual milking time (AMT) in the machine milking because of their behavior and well fit teat size.

Salalah is the future hub and the nucleus of pure Khawarah camel

Salalah is the hub of the Khawarah breed and the nucleus of the pure genetic pool. Here, the cameleers have maintained the pure genetic line of the breed and they have strong oral and traditional knowledge about the genealogy and husbandry of the breed. Here you can find the best specimens of the breeds with a promising yield of milk up to 35 kg/day. As the camel is slow in reproduction and the demand for the camel as a food security animal is ever increasing especially in the climate change scenarios, there is a pivotal need to establish a camel center where the best dairy camels can be maintained and propagated through modern reproductive techniques. The camel is the animal of the future and the next oil for the Arabian Peninsula and other camels’ habitats.

The Camel adapts a unique strategy to cope with the dry season

As mentioned in Quraan, ‘DO THEY NOT LOOK AT THE CAMEL, HOW STRANGE THEY ARE MADE’ the camel is unique and the animal of its kind. The camels cope with the dry season when there is very rare or no vegetation available. Only the twigs of woody flora, dried out grasses, and bushes are available, the camels need strong and diverse microflora in their gut to digest such a woody feed. The camels start eating camel manure balls (CMB) of other camel fellows and the soil of the termites’ dunes. I have already written about this topic, the link is here

They eat the CMB to fortify and diversify the gut microbiome. As termites have the most efficient microbiome in their gut to digest wood, bark, and other tough material. While eating the termites’ dunes mud, they introduce such microbiome into their gut to digest the wood material of the dry season. If you notice, you can find one thing even more interesting where there are camels, the cows in the same ecosystem are healthy and flashy because of the introduction of the camel gut microbiome into the cattle gut. I noticed that the cows are very healthy in Salalah while the weather was dry and no vegetation was available.

Camel eating CMB and dry roughages
Camel eating CMB and dry roughages in Salalah

Dairy companies are interested in camel milk

The interest of dairy companies is ever increasing in camel milk as there is a higher demand for camel milk in the regions where the camels are only existing in the zoos or with the hobby farmers. The Chinese market is one of the most important markets, especially for the camel PowderMilk. The main driver behind the higher demand for camel milk is its health-promising characteristics. In the Salalah region, Almarooj has already launched its camel milk collection and processing project with a target collection of 4.32 million liters per year.

The Cameleers have a complaint

The cameleers keep their camels as their family members and each camel has its name. The cameleers want to sustain the camel profession that their forefathers have handed over to them. They are not looking for earning millions but they expect to have a return at least to sustain camel farming. The calamities of climate change, the higher stocking capacity, and the land commercialization have shrunk the opportunities of natural herbage for the camels to eat and thrive. They really need some surplus income to feed their camels properly as only grazing can’t support their feeding regime. The company collecting milk from the cameleers most of the time rejects the milk only on the basis of the fat contents which can’t be justified. The fat, protein, lactose, ash, and other contents are naturally provided in the milk by the camel genome and the farmers can’t manipulate the chemistry of the milk. The milk derived from the camel udder is camel milk. It should not be rejected based on the chemical composition of the milk. Yes, it can be rejected if water is added, contaminated with antibiotics and chemicals or there is a high microbial count.

Quick Facts about Camels’ Domestication History

Domestication of Old World Camels

The Arabian camel has domesticated 3 to 5 thousands year before and the main driver for domestication was it milk. The camel was domesticated a bit later than other animals so its name appeared late in the register of domesticated animals. The one-humped camel (Camelus dromedarius) is found in all Arab land, Africa, South, and Central Asia. dromedary camel is also found in Australian deserts commonly known as a feral camel. Australian camels actually emigrated to Australia with Asian people, especially Afghans to use as a beast of burden for Australian development in the eighteenth century.

Dromedary or Arabian Camel

Tribulus Plant
A dromedary camel grazing in the Arabian desert, eating the Tribulus flowers.
The dromedaries were domesticated even earlier than the Bactrian, before 3000 BC in the Arabian Peninsula. The term "dromedary" is derived from the dramas Greek for "road") and thus is directly applicable only to the racing or riding dromedary. However, the term is used throughout the world to describe this specie.

Dromedaries were first associated with nomadic Semitic cultures and did not become important until the rise of the Arabian culture. They became important domestic animals only with the Muslim conquests of Egypt in the 7th to 11th centuries AD.

The Bactrian or Bakhdi Camels

I shot this picture in the month of the May. Though the weather was not hot still the environment is not very friendly for the exotic livestock.
Two-humped camel (Camelus bactrianus ) is an Asiatic animal found in Gobi desert and other central Asian countries. The Bactrian Camels are thought to have been domesticated prior to 2500 BC. The name Bactrian is derived from a place name, Bactria, on the Oxus River in northern Afghanistan. Domesticated Bactrian camels were found in southern Russia by 1700-1200 BC and even in western Siberia by the 10th century BC. They were used in China as early as 300 BC as the original "silk  route" camels, but were replaced by crossbreds of the Bactrian/dromedary  later on.

Syrup or gel-like Urine of Camels

I’m sure you have seen many camels with their hind legs painted with a blackish jell-like solution. Why it is like that? Because the camels extract more water from the urine, camels’ urine becomes a very thick and gel-like solution. When they urinate, the sticky urine adheres with the skin and shows blackish paint. Camel manages such mechanisms because of their unique kidney physiology. Snakes and reptiles adopt the same mechanism.

You will find the hind legs of camels painted with a blackish jelly-like solution.

Also, the camels do not produce sweats in relatively normal environments but produce very little in hard work under very extreme high temperatures, that is why the camel has a unique water economy. 

Best suited to their ecosystems, camels browse from where the other animals cannot approach

Question and Question about camels

Do you have enough knowledge about the amazing camels? Therefore, in Quraan, it is said ‘DO THEY NOT LOOK AT THE CAMELS, HOW STRANGE THEY ARE CREATED?’

How strange they are created?

Camel is unique with a wide range of traits

The camel has one trait/character from all living creatures including plants. The camel urinates (thickness/viscosity) like snakes to conserve water. Camel is a great conservationist.

The Golden Beauty of Camel

Camels are beautiful and very much resemble to their habitat like other animals. The golden red sand of the Alain gives a very special shade to the Arabian camels. To see the stunning beauty, go to the link below.

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