The population of the world is put at approximately 7.8 billion people, which leads to constant depletion of natural biodiversity as humans strive for survival and sustenance. It is therefore pertinent for man to maximise his environment for optimal results. The exploitation of the environment captures a wide range of natural resources among other benefits. One of these resources are domesticated animals, in which camels belong.
Camels are large humped-mammalian animals belonging to the genus called Camelus. These breeds of beasts have three varieties named one-humped Dromedary camels (Camelius dromedarius) and two-humped Bactrian camels (Camelius bactrianus). The dromedaries are about 94% found in North Africa, Arabian nations, Middle East including the Horn of Africa.
The bactrians are 6% mostly found in Central Africa and other parts of the world. The third species of camels are Wild Bactrians considered to be unfavourably endangered. Studies reveal that there are less than 1,000 left in Gobi desert of Mongolia and China. This is due to indiscriminate hunting and illegal mining which have been part of human threat to the ecosystem.
Benefits of camels to man
Camels are as old as life itself and have lived with man from the time immemorial. They have played substantial roles in the advancement of humanity contributing to caravan merchandise thus leading to gradual but steady civilisation, which man is enjoying in this digital age. As stated earlier, the survival and sustenance of human race are pivoted on many resources, animals inclusive. And for the purpose of this context, camels are still very important animals for humans to utilise for their vast profits.
The natural advantages of camels to man are enormous. The production of meat, milk, wool, and hide are of significant importance to man for commercial and industrial purposes. These by-products will address food production globally as it was estimated that there is demand for 2.7 – 30 million metric tonnes of meat and beef to be consumed in 2020, and about 258 million metric tonnes by 2050. This also should prompt the readiness of the stakeholders in wildlife and conservation as to what should be projected for the future. Our world can still boast of 30 million heads of camels now. Obviously, there are lots of innovative researches and works to increase the number.
Problems facing man as regards camel raising:
The effects of climate change are adversely taking its toll on the livestock such as goat, cattle, sheep, fowls etc. Heat and diseases induced by harsh and hostile environments kill them in numbers, thereby standing as threats to milk and beef production globally.
Possible solutions from camel raising:
It is noteworthy that our globe is currently threatened by Climate Change. A number of organisations involved with these have projected that effects of global warming and climate change are dangerous to natural habitats in which most of the domesticated animals such as pigs, fowls, cows, goats and sheep will be adversely affected in the near future by severe environmental conditions.
However, the surviving hope is that camels survive in hostile, tough weather situations and environments than other livestock. One of the distinctive features of camels is their resistance to diseases such as Pestes des petis ruminants (PPR) virus and rift valley fever (RVF).
It is mostly believed that camels thrive in the hot regions and desert areas of up to 120 degrees centigrade, whereas they also survive in humid temperature from 20o. The point is that they have tendencies to live in both wet and hot regions. They have an edge over other animals with their humps functioning like containers for food storage. Their humps swell up when they eat and drink, which they use as metabolism to store fat which is used to flourish in their moments of hunger and thirst. These humps go down when they need food and water.
A camel can drink 30 gallons of water (113 litres) in 13 minutes which can last it for 4 -7 days without water. It is quite interesting to know that the milk and meat composition of camels are more nutritious than other farm animals’. While their meat has less fat, the milk contains 3 – 10 times vitamin C than that of cows’ milk.
Other benefits of camels to man include tourist services, farming activities, sporting games and transport means even in the face of technology.
Notwithstanding the gains of the camels to man, there is a great need for man to work on the genetic improvement of these beasts of burden. Like other animals that have been improved on genetically, camels, considering the benefits they offer to man should be catered for. This is necessary to help them combat possible threats against their health, fertility and productivity. As the attention is shifting to camels to sustain man, it is expected that the stakeholders such as International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) looks into this.
There is also a great necessity for massive increase of camels globally to meet the demands aforementioned in milk, meat, wool, hide and other means in commercial quantities. This invokes the question and desirous need to preserve them from extinction. This is the aspect where genetic improvement still plays its role. The remaining wild bactrians become the obligation of the stakeholders to conserve, even as dromedaries and bactrians are nurtured to grow exponentially.
This selection of exceptional species to produce superior breeds for future populations will reform livestock production. Camels of quality breeds will be raised for sports and race, and sustainability for machine milking alongside other benefits which in turn contribute to the global wealth in form of job opportunities and other enduring advantages.