Prosopis cineraria (Ghaf in Arabic) – An unsung hero of the desert


The Story of Ghaf in her own words

When you see me thrive in your fields, you may wonder if I’m stealing water from your crops. I’m not! my taproots goes down 35-60 meters in search of water. That’s about. the width of one of your football fields! I actually protect your agriculture by acting as a windbreak to slow down dust storms. My roots also stabilize sand dunes, preventing the desert from taking over.

The roots of Prosopis cineraria reach up to 60 meters deep
The cineraria is one of the most resilient trees of the desert

Prosopis is evergreen, resilient to harsh weathers, and taller up to a reasonable height

An evergreen tree, grow up to 25m tall; trunk un-branched for several meters; branches droop, giving the canopy a rounded appearance with short triangular spines between leaves nodes; bark is fissured or cracked providing shelter to different insects. The tree is also frost hardy and tolerant of temperatures up to 50 oC.

Prosopis is a desirable food for camels, donkey, and goat – Ensuring food for livestock in challenging climatic conditions

The leaves are an available, excellent, and nutritious fodder, readily eaten by many animals including camels, goats, and donkeys. I call it an ice cream plant species for the camels. https://arkbiodiv.com/2017/12/17/the-ice-cream-species-of-plants-for-the-camel-and-goat/

The tree produces leaves during the extremely dry summer months when most other trees are leafless, ensuring food for the livestock in challenging weathering conditions. Leaves are a rich source of food as it contain 13.8% crude protein, 20% crude fiber, and 18% calcium. The pods also provide a good fodder, containing a higher level of crude protein.

Some very important and basic information about the different aspects of the Prosopis cineraria in the table

NoParticularsDetails available for each particularl
1LeavesGrey-green; divided into two pinnae, each with 7-16 pairs of leaflets with pointed tips.
2FlowersFlowering twice a year from March to May and from October to January. Tiny flowers on cylindrical spikes. The flowers are valuable for honey production.
3PodsPods cylindrical; slightly curved; yellow to reddish brown. The pods (fruits) form soon after flowering and grow rapidly in size within two months time it reach the full pods size.
3Food and Ethnobiomedical usesThe people living in the desert eat the young leaves and seed pods.
Extracts of leaves used as eye drops; extracts of crushed pods used as ear drops; leaves chewed for toothache.
Ashes of burnt bark mixed with water to relieve pain in fractured bones; bark used for rheumatism and also applied to scorpion stings.
4BarkThe nomads use the bark leather tanning (skins of sheep and goats for using as water and oil containers) and also yields an edible gum.
The details of each particular is provided in details

The insects, birds and other wildlife love to live in Prosopis tree. The honeybee make web here and I found it very often. In the following link, you can see the promotable growth of the tree in the desert and see a big honeybee web. https://youtu.be/pMK5UZ0qA4Y

The Nature Engineered Distinctive DNA of Camel to Beat the Challenge of Climate Change


Thank God, my dream came true as; specially engineered camel DNA (revealed in a recent study) makes this unique animal a solution to climate change and other challenges. The study ( the author was part of it) published in PNAS with full access here. a day before. The authors have ensured that the remarkable story over its long and celebrated history stands out like a scientific beacon. Without the camel, Arabian trade, medieval conquests, and recent communication routes would all have collapsed, changing the course of events for human civilizations as well as that incredible diversity among the camel gene pools of Asia, Africa, and even Australia.

Kohi Camel Caravan.jpg

A unique and pioneering study of the ancient and modern DNA of the ‘ship of the desert’ the single-humped camel or dromedary has shed new light on how its use by human societies has shaped its genetic diversity. DNA Sequencing Reveals Human Desert Migrations Shaped Camel Genetics.

Dromedaries have been fundamental to the development of human societies, providing food and transport in desert countries, for over 3,000 years. The dromedary continues to be vital for livelihood, food, and recreations where other species would not survive. In the current context of climate change and advancing desert landscapes, the animal’s importance is increasing and there is new interest in the biology and reproduction of the species.

In my opinion “genetic mixing and re-mixing engineered special DNA (camels) as; by constantly mixing the populations, the camels are now very genetically diverse which makes them more resilient to climate change. As predicted by the climate scientists, the mercury will go up with the passage of years, the camels will be the best choice among the others for food security and sustainable farming systems.

dromedarypic1

The study suggests that the wild camels, which are now extinct, periodically helped restock domesticated populations. Unlike many other domesticated animals, modern camel populations have maintained their ancestral genetic diversity, potentially enabling adaptation to future changes in terrain and climate, according to the authors.

For more general articles the links are given in the ensuing lines. The links are referred in the article also.

References;

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-36252141

http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2016/05/human-migrations-shaped-camel-dna

http://www.sciencecodex.com/origin_of_dromedary_domestication_discovered-182056

How trade routes forever changed the dromedary camel’s genetic makeup

http://nhv.us/content/16056061-first-domestication-dromedaries-took-place-southeast-arabian

http://www.earthtimes.org/conservation/diversity-camels-conserved-3000-years/2938/

http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/june-2013/article/ancient-trading-networks-and-arabian-camel-diversity

Saving Life on Earth–Saving Biodiversity — GarryRogers Nature Conservation


Human Impact on Biodiversity Unaware of the consequences of its behavior, the growing human population is erasing sixty-five million of years of biodiversity recovery since the massive extinction that eliminated dinosaurs and most other species. This is without doubt the greatest issue of our time, perhaps of all time. In the article below, Quentin Wheeler […]

via Saving Life on Earth–Saving Biodiversity — GarryRogers Nature Conservation

Is Climate Change Well Understood?


The climate change is reality

A huge set of data and the prevailing situations are witnessed of a catastrophic climate change happening. Almost all the major part of the societies are agreed that climate change is happening and the agriculture system will suffer further. The floods, erratic or no rainfall, desertification etc. have adversely affected (and continue even with the faster pace) to alter agriculture production potential of arable farming and livestock productions system.

Livestock Production is Suffering Adversely

The neutral zones of thermoregulation in animals are very challenging and heat intolerance, especially in exotic high producing animals is a catastrophic. The food security is a real challenge and many parts of the world (in one or other farm) is facing hunger and malnutrition.

20151009_172921

Native Livestock have the Adaptation Power

But there are good and potential tools we have to adapt with the higher/lower temperatures and produce in very low input production systems; they are the native animals and plants genetic resources. Unfortunately, their role is seldom value and addressed accordingly which results in development faulty policies regarding food and agriculture. The keepers of the native breeds are void of a strong voice and are seldom heard by policy makers while formulating policies regarding the genetic resources and food security.

But the Native Livestock is under Threat

This situation is very complex and challenging. Many of the gene keepers (herders) are giving up their profession. Their historic lands for natural are either grabbed by the influential persons or secured from grazing at the name of nature conservation. One of the very alarming example is from the camel breeders of Rajastan India. The camel is really sinking and the population have gone down manifolds in last 3 decade. camel in Balochistan

The same is the situation in the Thal and Thar desert of Pakistan.

Conclusion

The time has reached to reconsider the existing policies regarding food and agriculture and give proper place and task to the native gene and its keeper to beat the challenge of food security in clime change context.

Alarming Facts about Desertification, Drought and Catastrophes


drought 1

Be among the first to know  12 February 2016

Hot off the press!
A new analysis issued by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) shows that 2015 – the hottest year on record – confirmed that weather and climate-related disasters now dominate disaster trends linked to natural hazards.

The analysis found that 98.6 million people were affected by disasters in 2015, and that climate – often aided by a strong El Niño phenomenon – was a factor in 92 per cent of those events.

2015 disaster facts and figures vs 2005-2014 averages

  • 32 major droughts recorded last year compared to an annual average of 15 over the previous decade.
  • Droughts affected 50.5 million people, well above the ten year average of 35.4 million.
  • Floods were in second place last year when 152 floods affected 27.5 million people and claimed 3,310 lives. This compares with the ten year average of 5,938 deaths and 85.1 million people affected.
  • Floods in India last year affected 16.4 million people.drought

Rising sea levels and sea surface temperatures were factors in a very active cyclone season in Asia and the Pacific which saw 37 cyclones and typhoons. Globally, there were:

  • 90 reported storms resulting in 996 deaths and affecting 10.6 million people. This compares with a ten year average of 17,778 deaths and 34.9 million people affected.

2015 was the hottest year on record and this contributed to a major loss of life from heatwaves, including a combined total of 7346 deaths: in France (3,275), India (2,248) and Pakistan (1,229).

  • Overall, 7,346 deaths were recorded and 1.2 million people were affected by extreme temperatures in 2015.
  • This compares with the ten year average of 7,232 deaths and 8.7 million affected.

Other statistics from 2015:

  • earthquakes and tsunamis killed 9,525 people (including Nepal) and affected 7.2 million;
  • landslides triggered by heavy rains, killed 1,369 people and affected 50,332;
  • wildfires took 66 lives and affected almost 495,000 people.

Read The press release  , have a look into the infographics on disaster trends  .The latest report, The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters demonstrates that :

  • Drought affects Africa more than any other continent, with EM-DAT recording 136 events there between 1995 and 2015 (some41% of the global total), including 77 droughts in East Africa alone.
  • Since the first UN climate change conference (COP1) in 1995, 606,000 lives have been lost and 4.1 billion people have been injured, left homeless or in need of emergency assistance as a result of weather-related disasters.
  • Urbanization has significantly increased flood run-offs, while recurrent flooding of agricultural and, particularly in Asia, has taken a heavy toll in terms of lost production, food shortages and rural under-nutrition.flood

Reducing the size of drought-vulnerable populations should be a global priority over the next decade; better accounting systems for indirect deaths from drought are also required; these should be linked to early warning systems and response mechanisms in order to monitor the impacts of drought more comprehensively. Learn more from the International Disaster Database EM DAT