Camel is one of the best animal models adapted to the harshest climatic conditions of the earth. Camel is engineered with super genes, evolved in tune with the climate change in the hundreds of years evolution history.
Seeing the tragic scenes on TV about the wildfires and the soaring heat in the regions not used to such challenges, the scientists are now thinking of adaptation strategies as the mitigation is complicated, expensive, and unsustainable.
As an animal scientist, working with the camels for the last 20 years, I’m very confident to say that one of the best adaptation strategies would be giving the camel a chance to perform as a food security animal. Though it is not easy and simple it is a reliable and sustainable model to ensure food security under the climate change challenge. Camel can be introduced in the forests (organic nutrients) which can consume the roughages which are otherwise causing hazardous fires. Camel and other animals especially goats can cut the link between the plants on the ground and the shoots of the trees, hence minimizing the risk of wildfires. http://camel4all.info/index.php/2020/09/15/grazing-livestock-can-eliminate-the-fire-hazards-in-the-forests/
Camel with the ability to produce milk and meat in a very low or zero input system can provide amazing food ingredients, especially milk which is attracting thousands of new consumers because of its health-friendly nature. Camel milk is not only good food but helps in health challenges, especially the challenges which are posed because of lifestyle like diabetes.
I have been writing on the camelization of the camels in the new habitats which are different and far away from their original habitats of Asia and Africa. The new habitats like Australia, part of the USA, and Europe are the new habitats and the people over there are witnessed the miraculous attributes of camels under the challenges of climate change. Also, many reports are circulating about the health admiring role of the camel milk as we can read on the very active group wall posts on Facebook with the name of ‘HEALING WITH THE CAMEL MILK’
European scientists are convinced with the attributes of the camel and the renowned camel scientist Dr. bernard Faye is leading a camel milk project with the name of CAMELMILK (PRIMA project n° 1832) to materialize camel milk availability at the European level. There are very promising results coming out of the project. I can see the beautiful pictures of the milking camels and the cheese-making out of the camel milk. https://camel-milk.org/about-us/summary/
In Europe, the camels are mainly housed in 3 countries, i.e. Germany, France, and Spain. Clearer information is only available for the Canary Island with at least 1,300 camels (the data is a bit controversial and maybe more than these figures). The average per camel milk yield (3 to 4 kg/day) is lower than in Africa, Arabia, and Central and South Asia. The prices of camel milk range from 8 to 10 Euro per kg camel milk. People are taking interest in camel milk and the consumers are increasing with a speedy incline curve. The main reasons for the camel milk likeness in Europe are;
- People with allergies prefer camel milk as the camel milk is free of cow allergy proteins and intolerant lactose.
- The health conscious people, especially the new generation
- The people looking for the pharmacological affects of the camel milk and consider camel milk as natural pharmacy
- The people who prioritize environment friendly production system
Challenges and the Way Forward
One of the most important challenges for the camel keepers in the new habitats is the lower yield of milk. The ancestors of those camels were imported into the regions for work. They are massive animals and comparatively low yielders in milk. In some regions, especially Europe they are somehow crossbred with the Bactrian camels which are very low yielder but producing thicker milk than the Arabian camels.
It will be a wise suggestion to make a camel dairy consortium at a global level with the support of the relevant countries’ governments to centralize the best camel genes for more and sustainable milk production. It is a bit tricky but not impossible. This will be a milestone in the journey of the camel dairying which will put longer impacts on the food systems and environments in the regions.