Camel Peace Caravan for Conservation of Unique Tamarix Forest


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.Tamarix Forest

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.

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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

Lasi camel breed
Milking Camel of Lassi Breed in their true habitat

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.

Bhirdi Camel Breed
Author riding race camel of Bhirdi breed

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.

Problems and Constraints of Indigenous Livestock Keepers of Balochistan


Livestock keeping is one of the main agricultural activities in the historic grazing lands of Balochistan. More than 50% of the native people of the province rely (completely or partially) on livestock. The region is the cradle of livestock breeds domestication, later on, evolved with the tune of climate change and consumers’ demand for the livestock products. Today the livestock keepers of the province have very specialized livestock breeds fulfilling the multipurpose breeding goals of the keepers. In spite of all the good roles they play, the livestock keepers here are neglected, discouraged, and left unattended. One can read about the traditional livestock breeds of Balochistan in the link below. https://arkbiodiv.com/2012/01/03/indigenous-livestock-breeds-of-balochistan/amp/

Grazinglands’ detrioration

Grasslands or rangelands’ production potential had been decreased manifold because of the long drought periods and overgrazing (more livestock on lesser carrying capacity). Deforestation made the situation adverse more than ever. The vegetation of the rangelands had been removed for fuelwood very continuously. Both the types and intensity of vegetation had been decreased resulting in dryness and desertification. Due to stress on grazing lands, concurrent droughts, and deforestation, the land has already been prone to erosion resulting in low water absorption. The animal with low-quality feed intake resulted in lower health, poor quality products, and prone to diseases. All the above factors increased the intensity of poverty and many more families crossed the line of poverty.

Traditional Management of Rangelands

Our customary laws are one of the important tools, which can be used for the protection of the rangeland’s vegetation. Pargorr is our traditional way of conservation and an important article of our customary law. Due to the weak control of government and destabilization of the social tribal system, some problems arise with the application of the customary law. The government had been serving since the British era to implement customary laws strictly. Also due to the instability in Afghanistan and other border areas, the irregular movement of the Afghan nomad has worsened the situation (spending more time in the region than the traditional customs).

Pahwali or Kochani sheep breeds, the breed of the nomads

Water scarcity

Water scarcity is one of the major issues in the province. Water sources are very scarce especially in the uplands of the mountains and deep desert. Though, sometimes feed is available when the animal reaches there they can’t reach back to the water source. The water issue is worsting with the passage of each day.

Lack of epidemilogical information and poor animal health facilities

The new disease appeared in the register of livestock diseases of the area due to drought, low vigor, zoonotic, i.e. PPR, a new form of FMD, CCHF, udder decay disease, and the newest is diarrhea with water comes from the mouth. These diseases have been resulting in the loss of millions of livestock. The intensity of the diseases like anthrax, HS, Enterotoxaemia, FMD, pox, CCPP has increased manifolds. The vaccine is most cases is not available and there are no diagnostic labs, if available either not equipped or no staff is available. Livestock vanishes with the consequences of diseases and nobody is responsible for that.

Kohi camel of the Northeastern Balochistan

Modernization and the social change

Social, environmental, anthropological changes are affecting traditional livestock farming very negatively. Modern technologies and media affect the life of livestock keepers, resulting in social change, i.e. the young generation is taking a lesser interest in traditional livestock keeping and migrating to urban areas. This dilemma is resulting in creating pressure on the urban resources. With support from the government (marketing opportunities, education, health facilities, better infrastructure, and others), this trend can be reverted easily. Such support will help the livestock keepers to cope with the change and sustain the way of the production system.DSC03458

Overburden on the natural resources – the human population is also a cause

The human population is increasing speedily because of social changes and putting more pressure on natural resources. Our forefathers had been keeping family size according to the livestock number the family-owned, but the situation is changed now. The changes in the environment have been badly affected our lifestyle and production system. The concurrent droughts, fast winds, creeping desertification had made the situation complex. There are modern techniques to cope with such circumstances in the other parts of the world but the livestock keepers of the province are deprived of it.

Traditional livestock keepers have no representation and no constitutional support

Lack of education in our production system is one of the major social problems. The government has no solution to provide education to our kids in the prevailing conditions. The traditional livestock keepers are left behind with all basic needs like education and health. There is no quota for the livestock keepers in animal health and husbandry education. The urban dwellers are getting the chance to attain livestock professional education with only western perspectives which results in a faulty decision, resulting in the deterioration of our traditional livestock breeds. Illegal export by smugglers of the elite gene pool with the help of the local administration and illegal traders (those who do not pay any tax etc) is a serious threat to our livestock breeds. Also, the government organization imports exotic breeds and crosses our precious well-adapted livestock breeds. In the last drought period, we learned that the indigenous breeds were many folds drought-resistant to exotic breeds. This dilemma is very complex in cattle.

Marketing constraints – Our product is organic and ecofriendly but no support atall

No rules and regulation of marketing, the livestock business benefits go in the pockets of the opportunists’ traders. Our products are organic in nature and have very high value in international markets, but there is institutional and government support to introduce our products at global levels. Slow food is an international organization, promoting traditional food products globally and advocating healthy food systems. Our breeds and lifestyle are traditional and eco-friendly. We are the custodian of the genes and our region is the cradle of domestication. http://www.pastoralpeoples.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/CGRFA_LIFE_sideevent_kakar.pdfDSC01968

Policies without the livestock keepers

The traditional livestock keepers have no access to policy level forums, No share in policies related to livestock and genetic resources. The Government and other agencies’ policies apply from top to bottom approach and the keepers are not asking to share their views and concerns. The policies remain unsustainable and completely fail in a short period of time. The distribution and restocking of livestock projects are eminent examples in this regard (in such projects, the animals were brought from other regions and given to the non-keepers).

Conclusion

In my view, one of the main problems (the root cause) is the low/zero participation of the native livestock breeders in the fabrication of policies and implementation of development projects for livestock development. All the definitions and concepts regarding the management, breeding, feeding and sustainable development of livestock are derived from the western school of thought. The western school of thought for livestock is mainly based on high input and intensive farming with specialized breeds and feeding systems. Such concepts are very hard to fit in the extensive, low input and multipurpose system. Taking on board the livestock keepers for livestock development can bring a cool breeze in this sector, though the process will take a bit longer time.