Camel Fairs in Pakistan: A Case Study from Mangrota of Pakistan


Camel plays a very pivotal role in the life of the people of the northeastern Balochistan (Suleiman  mountainous region). The camel herders graze their camel herds all around the year on the woody vegetation of the mountains and in the month of October, they separate the camels ready for sale. The ready for sale animals are then moved to Mangrota camel fair. Mangrota camel fair is very famous among the camel breeders and is the main market for their camels. Mangrota is the town of Tehsil Taunsa, Dera Ghazi Khan (D.G.Khan) district of the Punjab province, Pakistan. The Mangrota camel Mela is held every year in the month of October and is the largest event of the year for the pastorals and traders of the region. The camels brought are predominantly white in color and are known as Kohi camel. These camels are mostly brought from the Suleiman Mountains and the adjoining areas. Mostly mature well-developed males of age more than 5 years are brought, but some cow camels and immature male and female are also brought.

The male matured draught animals acquire by the people of the high mountains for downloading timber wood, vegetables and the old and sick populace down to the roadsides or nearby towns. They carry their daily requirements by loading on camels to the peaks of the mountains where they live. These camels are moved from Mangrota camel Mela both on foot and by loading in trucks to Swat, Dir, Dera Ismail Khan (D.I Khan), Tribal areas & other parts of the NWFP province and some may reach to Afghanistan.Camels in Magrota

Location & History of Mangrota Fair
Mangrota is a town of Tehsil Taunsa, Dera Ghazi Khan (D.G.Khan) district of the Punjab province, Pakistan. Mangrota is situated at the terminal of the piedmont of Suleiman Mountain eastward. According to some elders and, Mela was previously called as Dosera, which was being held regularly at 16-23 October of each year. The Mela was purely a religious event of Hindu people before partition. Those times the camel was being used for bringing the Hindu families to the Mela place mainly on camel back, donkeys, and horses. A lot of camel, donkeys, and horses were being gathered at one place and the Mela gradually got importance as camel and other draught animal’s bazaar. After partition, the religious importance of the Mela diminished and the marketing importance still exists. The Mela is interesting for the camel herders, traders, businessmen, local healers of camel and other related people. Now the Mela has been declared as Camel Mela officially.Mangrota Camel Fair

Number and type of animals
Mela is for the camel but horses and donkeys are also brought. An increasing trend in the number of donkeys and horses has been observed. Camel comes here range from 8,000 to 10,000 every year. In the year 2006, the camel number was comparatively lesser than previous years due to the trouble in Maree and Bugti hills of Suleiman Mountains. The causes of the lesser number of traders participation were the rumors that this year the Mela will not be held because of the trouble in the Maree and Bugti area and the because of the month of Ramazan. In the year 2007, the camel number was higher than 2006 but the traders were lesser, because of the uncertainty in the Northern tribal area, where the majority of the camel goes.

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Business and Marketing System
The contract of the Mela is auctioned by D.G. Khan Municipal Corporation each year and contractor of the Mela charges 5 % of the cost of camel, which is paid by both the supplier and buyer or only one party pay the whole tax depending on the bargain. If someone found selling or buying an animal without paying the tax, will be punished eleven times of the actual tax. Broker charges of Rs. 400/ on each bargain (200 from each party) on the camel and a broker can make up to 25 bargains in a day. The traders paying for a camel.

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Body Condition Score (BCS) in Camel~ A tool for assessment of Adaptation


Assessing adaptation of camel to a specific ecosystem by the body condition scoring is a new idea. This idea/theme was introduced by the author during Ph.D. work in the Suleiman mountainous region of Balochistan. A number of 60 camels of the same age, sex (all female), and physiological status and body condition score were selected from each breed (Kohi and Pahwal or Gaddai) for this study (total 180). This study was continued for 135 days. The animals were grazing freely in the same grazing area. The major feedstuffs were trees and bushes, i.e. Acacia, Olivia, caragana spp, haloxyllon etc. No extra feed was offered to the camels of the study.

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Kohi camel with BCS 3
  1. Body condition scores 1. Weakest animal.
  2. Body condition scores 2. Weak animal
  3. Body condition scores 3. Fair animal
  4. Body condition scores 4. Good animal
  5. Body condition scores 5. Excellent animal

The BCS was assessed at the last week of the study period. BCS was done by the excellent breeders of both breeds and the author. The majority of the of Kohi breed remained in the good body condition scoring (3-5) while Pahwal lowered to the weaker BCS (2-3) and lost weight gradually with the period of time in that specific period. It was revealed that Kohi camel is highly adapted to the mountainous ecology of Suleiman mountains.

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Kohi camel with medium (3) BCS

This concept (using BCS to assess the drought tolerance ability of camel) is an initiative and idea of the author which can be polished further and may be used for the selection of highly adapted breeds of rangeland for conservation and further propagation.

This camel (sick) picture is given only to tell the lowest BCS (1)
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Kohi camel with BCS 2

An example of the best fit camel from Thar Desert

In 2008, a team of scientists from UAF including me visited many livestock ecosystems of Balochistan and Sindh. In Thar region of Sindh ‘NAGAR PAKAR’ I participated in camels’ festival. I found very unique and beauty breed of camels ‘Deshi or Thari’ which impressed me very much because of health and beauty. They are very good camels for riding, racing and even milk. I used the picture of Deshi camel as featured picture of this article.

Native Thar desert's camel known as Deshi camel
An all purpose camel breed of Thar desert. Native Thar desert’s camel known as Deshi camel.

Camel working in rug mountains of Suleiman


Camel working in rug mountains of Suleiman

Camel is the well adapted animal in Suleiman mountain for work in hostile topography of the region. The leaves of a bush are loaded on camel. These leaves are use for ropes and mat knitting. Such mats are use by the camel pastoralists for housing/huts buildings.