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Camels in Asia and North Africa

Camels in Asia and North Africa: Interdisciplinary perspectives on their past and present significance

Volume: 18
Copyright Date: 2012
  • Book Info
    Camels in Asia and North Africa
    Book Description:

    Die Menschheitsgeschichte ist eng mit Kamelen verbunden, denn ohne diese bemerkenswerten Tiere hätten Menschen die ariden Zonen Asiens und Nordafrikas nicht besiedelt und könnten sich heute nicht den Anforderungen zunehmender Desertifikation stellen. Die Erforschung der einzigartigen Interaktion zwischen Mensch und Kamel ist daher an der ÖAW seit ihrer Gründung vor rund 160 Jahren etabliert. Das vorliegende Konferenz- und Publikationsprojekt verpflichtet sich dieser Forschungstradition und stellt die historischen und gegenwartsbezogenen Interaktionen zwischen Mensch und Nutztier ins Zentrum des Erkenntnisinteresses. Die Publikation zum Kamel ist international und interdisziplinär angelegt und soll einen Wissensaustausch zwischen Natur- und Humanwissenschaften fördern. Die Diskussionen der Altweltkamele (Dromedar, Baktrisches Kamel und Wildkamel) umfassen die Themen Herkunft und Domestizierung, Zucht, Haltung und Handel, sowie deren Bedeutung in sozio-kultureller und ökonomischer Hinsicht, in Musik, Volks- und Veterinärmedizin, und die Erhaltung der letzten Wildkamel-Populationen. Mit einem Nachwort von Richard W. Bulliet (New York).

    eISBN: 978-3-7001-7350-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. Index of Pictures
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  4. The Camel at the Crossroads of Multiple Perspectives: Introduction to an Interdisciplinary Encounter
    (pp. 1-14)
    Eva-Maria Knoll

    While we were collecting the articles for this publication the international community’s attention was preoccupied with the so-called Arab Spring of 2011. As is widely known, this series of protests and demonstrations started on December 18, 2010, in Tunisia with the self-immolation of a desperate vegetable vendor called Mohamed Bouazizi and rapidly spread across the Middle East and North Africa. Around the globe people could follow media coverage of those events on an almost daily basis. It is not my intention to discuss the peaceful and violent aspects of this mass movement in the Muslim world here, or the socio-technical...

  5. I OLD WORLD CAMELS (Tribe Camelini)

    • Genetic Traces of Domestication in Old World Camelids
      (pp. 17-28)
      Pamela Burger

      When and where did modern camels evolve? These questions about the evolutionary history and domestication of dromedary (Camelus dromedarius) and Bactrian camels (Camelus bactrianus) have only recently reached the field of molecular genetics. Traditionally, fossil records are used for tracing ancient demography. For Old World camels the split between dromedaries and Bactrian camels was dated at 5 million years (myr) ago, significantly later than estimated by phylogenetic¹ studies (8 myr). Although fossils provide invaluable information they are limited and difficult to assess, particularly if there was continuity between ancient and modern camels. Based on archeological data the domestication of dromedaries...

    • The Encounter between Bactrian and Dromedary Camels in Central Asia
      (pp. 29-36)
      Bernard Faye and Gaukhar Konuspayeva

      The two large domestic camelids, the one-humped dromedary (Camelus dromedarius) and the double-humped Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus), live in two distinct areas of the Old World. Their distribution areas overlap in a few countries such as Iran, India and Afghanistan, but the practice of hybridization is the most common in Kazakhstan. Indeed, despite being classified as two different species, the dromedary and Bactrian are interfecund.

      Historically, the hybridization between the two species was associated with the Silk Road, and was aimed at producing animals combining the robustness of the Bactrian and the endurance of the dromedary, as well as an...

    • Embryonic Hump Development and Ancestry in Old World Camels
      (pp. 37-42)
      Clemens Knospe, Joerg Kinne, Nissar A. Wani, Ulrich Wernery and Joris Peters

      Since the 1960s it has been postulated that the Arabian and the Bactrian camel originated from a single wild ancestor, Camelus ferus. One key argument in this respect was provided by the anatomical study by the Italian researcher Lombardini, who in the annals of the University of Tuscany in 1879 described a second hump-like structure in fetal and juvenile dromedaries. Although frequently cited in literature, Lombardini’s results have never been verified. This article is intended to contribute to the discussion of Old World camels’ ancestry. It is based on a study in which 33 fetuses of Arabian camels, one of...

  6. II WILD CAMELS (Camelus ferus)

    • The Conservation Status and Management of Wild Camels in Mongolia
      (pp. 45-54)
      Adiya Yadamsuren, Enkhbileg Dulamtseren and Richard P. Reading

      Critically endangered wild camels (Camelus ferus) survive in just four more or less isolated populations in Mongolia and China (Reading et al. 1999). In 1975, Mongolia established the Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area “A” (GGSPAA) to help conserve the unique Gobi ecosystem and its rare flora and fauna, such as the wild camel (Camelus ferus) and Gobi bear (Ursus arctos). Subsequently, China created the Lob Nur Wild Camel Conservation National Natural Reserve in Xinjiang (Uigur Autonomous Region) and the Wild Camel Conservation Natural Reserve in Annanba (Gansu Province).

      At present, an unknown number of wild camels inhabit these reserve areas....

    • The Status of the Wild Camel in China
      (pp. 55-60)
      Yuan Lei, John Hare, Yuan Guoying and Cheng Yun

      In 1874 the famous Russian explorer Nickolai Przewalsky first identified the wild camel (Camelus ferus) as being different in many respects to the domestic Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus). He took the skins and bones of two wild camels back with him to St Petersburg, where his discovery was treated with skepticism by Russian scientists. In recent years it has been proved through genetic testing that the wild camel is not only substantially different from the domestic Bactrian camel, but is indeed a separate species (see Burger this volume). Przewalsky was right.

      This paper introduces wild camel distribution in China and...

    • Working in a Freezer: Capturing and Collaring Wild Bactrian Camels
      (pp. 61-68)
      Chris Walzer, Petra Kaczensky, Enkhbileg Dulamtseren and Adiya Yadamsuren

      The range of the wild Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus) has been reduced to only four locations worldwide. The population is listed as critically endangered. To better understand the movement patterns and habitat needs of wild camels in southern Mongolia several expeditions were undertaken between 2005 and 2007.¹ Using a chase method where camels are darted from a moving jeep, eight camels were chemically captured. In seven of the camels darted, anesthesia and subsequent recovery was smooth and without complication and these animals were outfitted with satellite radio-collars. However, one camel died of undetermined causes during anesthesia. Extremely low ambient temperatures...

    • Hybridization: A Threat to the Genetic Distinctiveness of the Last Wild Old World Camel Species
      (pp. 69-76)
      Katja Silbermayr and Pamela Burger

      Natural hybridization has played an important role in the evolution of many animal (Mallet 2005) and plant taxa (Baack/Rieseberg 2007). However, hybridization between wild species and their domestic congeners often threatens the gene pool of the wild species, especially if the species has become rare (Allendorf et al. 2001, Randi 2008). This is the case with the wild camel as we will show in this article.

      Introgressive hybridization between translocated or invasive organisms and local wild populations adds to a loss of genetic diversity and biodiversity. With the ever increasing encroachment of humans, their livestock and pets on the remaining...

  7. III BACTRIAN CAMELS (Camelus bactrianus)

    • Ancient DNA Reveals Domestication Process: The Case of the Two-Humped Camel
      (pp. 79-86)
      Alexandra Trinks, Pamela Burger, Norbert Benecke and Joachim Burger

      The domestication of the two-humped camel (Camelus bactrianus) promoted remarkable progress in cultural and economic development for ancient human civilizations in the steppes of Eurasia. However, the evolutionary relationship between domesticated and the extant wild two-humped camels (Camelus ferus) as well as time, place and motivations for domestication of these animals remain unresolved.

      Here, a particular fragment of the mitochondrial DNA (458bp hypervariable fragment of the control region) was analyzed in 12 bone samples of Bactrian camels. The bone material was collected from Late Bronze and Early Iron Age sites in Siberia and Uzbekistan. Subsequently, ancient DNA sequences from these...

    • The Tears of the Camel: Reflections on Depictions and Descriptions of the Camel in Mongolian Culture
      (pp. 87-94)
      Maria-Katharina Lang

      In 2004 the film The Story of the Weeping Camel (m. Ingen nulims¹) was nominated for an Oscar in the “Best Documentary” category. The narrative documentary was written and directed by the German-trained Mongolian director Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni. Its protagonists are the members of an extended family of herders in the Gobi desert area, who own a herd of sixty camels. The docu-drama, combining unstaged sequences with recreations following the storyline of a prepared script, had a wide public appeal. In the view of social anthropology and Mongolian studies, the storyline has several elements worth analyzing, as they...

    • The Camel and its Symbolism in the Daily Life of the Mongols with Particular Reference to their Folk Songs
      (pp. 95-106)
      Otgonbayar Chuluunbaatar

      Animals are an essential aspect for the survival of a society characterized by nomadic traditions. It is little known that for Mongolians the performance of music, and especially chanting, has been an indispensable factor in livestock-breeding itself. This article shows how the camel has its established place in legends, parables, metaphors, ritual songs and everyday folk songs, as well as in modern literature. All these art forms often also impart knowledge pertaining to the camel or its significance for Mongolians.

      In the Mongol non-sedentary breeding communities, a symbolism has evolved that directly relates to this feature of their existence. This...

  8. IV DROMEDARIES (Camelus dromedarius)

    • Archeozoology of Camels in South-Eastern Arabia
      (pp. 109-122)
      Margarethe Uerpmann and Hans-Peter Uerpmann

      In the western world when we talk about the desert we immediately imagine camels as well. The camel as “ship of the desert” is a well-known topos in many languages. In the Arab culture, in the world of the Bedouins, the notion of camels evokes much more. Apart from a means of locomotion and transportation, camels represent an aid to survival, a lifestyle, and objects of admiration, poetic inspiration and cult. The camel’s significance is emphasized in the Holy Quran and in Islamic literature in general: the twenty-three camels of Prophet Muhammad are proverbial. The Arabic language includes many different...

    • Riding Camels in Arabia: Outline of a Revised Cultural History
      (pp. 123-130)
      Walter Dostal

      Cultural and historical analyses today are able to outline the various patterns of interactions between humans and domesticated animals that have evolved throughout history in Arabia. Among dromedaries, different forms of saddle construction and various forms of using and riding them are key criteria of those varying patterns of interaction. Elements of material culture and their practical association with camel herding thus provide important clues for the analysis of specific developmental periods. This is why, ever since the 1960s and 1970s, the question of camel-riding techniques and their roles in history have played an important role in the respective subfields...

    • Caravans from South Arabia: Roads and Organization
      (pp. 131-140)
      Johann Heiss

      In his contribution to the famous volume The Invention of Tradition, the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper observed that “the sea unites rather than divides” (Trevor-Roper 1983:15). The same could be said of deserts, provided there are sufficient pack animals – in our case camels – and enough wells, reservoirs etc. In consequence, under certain circumstances the bleak surfaces of deserts may become rather advantageous highways.¹ The different nature of the regions – deserts, towns, agricultural areas – through which camel caravans traveled imposed different constraints and necessities on animals and humans. In the desert, there is usually room enough for the animals and people to...

    • Camels in Star Mythology and in Everyday Rural Life: Ethnographic Observations in South-West Arabia’s Tihāma Lowlands
      (pp. 141-150)
      Andre Gingrich

      This short chapter discusses certain local south-west Arabian notions about the dromedary. These are connected with star lore among groups of inhabitants of the coastal plain along the eastern shores of the Red Sea, i.e. the Tihāma. Similar to other regions of the Middle East, local residents of rural areas in the Saudi and Yemeni Tihāma often tend to attribute anthropomorphic qualities to camels. They are seen as strong and enduring, but also as unpredictable and unevenly tempered. With regard to several aspects of relations to the environment, dromedaries are perceived as being much more sensitive than humans. This obviously...

    • What Camels Eat: A Study in Arabic Ethnobotany
      (pp. 151-162)
      Daniel Martin Varisco

      What do camels eat? The simple answer is almost anything. In the extensive lore on the camel in Arabic texts, there is a wide variety of information about the kind of plants that camels eat, what are considered the best pasture, which produce the best quality milk and some that are thought to cause harm. This study focuses on the ways in which the early Arab botanical genre classified plants for camel pasturage and the experiential information available in these texts and other lexical sources in comparison to ethnographic analysis of camel nomadism on the Arabian Peninsula. Since it is...

    • The Economic Significance and Traditional Management of Dromedaries in Syria
      (pp. 163-168)
      Darem Tabbaa

      The one-humped Arabian camel, or dromedary, was originally used as a food animal in Syria, and later as a beast of burden. It is a ruminating mammal which stores fat in the hump on top of its body. Its feet are broad, flat, leathery pads, with two toes on each foot, designed to prevent them from sinking in the sand. The ancestor of today’s camel originated in the Syrian region but is now extinct¹. It lived around 100,000 years ago, was up to three meters tall at the shoulder and measured four meters overall (see picture 44). Fossil evidence of...

    • The Socio-Economic Perspective of Camels in Pakistan
      (pp. 169-176)
      Arshad Iqbal

      Pakistan possesses 23% of the Asian camel populations (Jasra/Mirza 2004, FAO 1985) and as such occupies the 6th position at global level, after Somalia, Sudan, Mauritania, Ethiopia and India. Asia possesses the second-largest camel population after Africa (Jasra/Mirza 2004). Pakistan has some one million camels, mainly dromedaries, belonging to 20 recognized breeds. They are primarily raised for work, followed by their functions as providers of milk, meat and fiber and for recreation. Brella and Marecha are well recognized camel breeds for milk and as work animals, respectively.

      Camels are the mainstay for the nomadic and pastoral societies of Pakistan. As...

    • Camel Trekking in Jordan: Between Oriental Perception and Authentic Tourist Expectation
      (pp. 177-186)
      Mohammed Shunnaq and Susanne Ramadan Shunnaq

      Tourism to the Arabian region has long been encouraged by the visitor’s desire to experience adventure, unveil the mysterious, seek escape, or live the western fantasy about the East. Images of camels in the tourism industry have played a significant role in propagating the traditional perceptions of the Arabic region in the mind of the western tourist. Camels, the ancient ships of the desert, play a vital role in keeping such traditional visions alive. This article will discuss camel trekking in Jordan’s desert areas as a unique tourism experience for those who are attracted by the oriental flair of the...

    • Camel Urine and Milk in the Arab Heritage (Folk Medicine): A Review
      (pp. 187-192)
      Abdulsalam A. Bakhsh, Wael M. El-Deeb and Awatif A. Al-Judaibi

      The strong mutually beneficial relations between the Arabian or one-humped camel (Camelus dromedarius) and its Arab owners have been documented since ancient times. The dromedary is valued as a source of power, fortune and delight, reported the Arabic historian Al-Jāhiz, who described it as a “complete animal” for human beings (Baesmel 2004, Al-Ani 2004). It is exceptionally well-adapted to long periods of drought and heat and can survive and reproduce in conditions intolerable to other domestic animals (Abdalla et al. 1988). The camel as the king of the desert has thus played a crucial role in the life of desert...

    • The Saharan Dromedary as a Sign: The Prominence of Dromedaries among the Nomadic Imuhar Society in the Algerian Desert
      (pp. 193-198)
      Anja Fischer

      The Imuhar nomads, known under the foreign designation of Tuareg, live in one of the most extreme environments in the world in Libya, Algeria, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. The Imuhar I discuss in this article live in the Algerian part of the Central Sahara and they are highly specialized dromedary and goat breeders. The “red Ferrari” of these nomads is the white, long-legged he-dromedary called the ebaydag, which is ridden both by women and men among the Imuhar. With gender-specific accessories, the ebaydag becomes a sign of masculinity and femininity. The dromedaries’ speed and strength are not their most...

    • The Traditional Management of the One-Humped Camel in the Horn of Africa: Milking, Fostering and Weaning Techniques
      (pp. 199-206)
      Maurizio Dioli

      The domestication of the one-humped camel or dromedary (Camelus dromedarius) took place a few thousand years ago, probably in the Arabian Peninsula (Uerpmann/Uerpmann 2002) and from there it expanded to its modern-day range: Africa north of the Sahara, and other Middle Eastern and Asian countries.

      All modern-day people who own camels, with the exception of the Turkana of north-west Kenya, use them as pack animals and riding animals. However, the most important use of dromedaries is for milk. As humans have to compete with camel calves for the valued milk and to fully utilize the milk production capabilities of the...

    • The Informal Camel Milk Marketing Sector in Kenya and Somalia
      (pp. 207-218)
      Mario Younan and David M. Mwangi

      The importance of camel¹ milk as a source of nutrients for pastoralist communities in arid regions of Kenya and Somalia is well documented. Compared to cow’s milk, camel milk keeps better. This allows transport and trade of non-chilled raw camel milk over long distances. The rise in numbers of urbanized and sedentary (ex-)pastoralists is creating an ever growing market demand for camel milk, a regular commodity in informal Kenyan and Somali markets. Income generated by pastoralist households from sales of camel milk is on the same scale as income from sales of livestock. The informal camel-milk value chain, described in...

    • Extending the Shelf Life of Camel Milk
      (pp. 219-224)
      Ibtisam E. M. El Zubeir

      This article is based on a study carried out to increase the efficiency of the keeping quality of raw milk by the activation of the lactoperoxidase enzymes system (LPS), which was recommended by FAO. Fresh raw milk samples from both bovine and dromedary milk were obtained from the University of Khartoum farm during May 2010. The activation was done two hours later after the morning milking and the milk samples were divided into LPS-activated and control samples. The preservation of the samples was then carried out at room temperature (37° C) and refrigeration conditions (8° C). All samples were subjected...

    • Bringing Camels into Focus: A Photo-Essay on Dromedaries in the Nigeria-Niger Corridor
      (pp. 225-230)
      Abdussamad M. Abdussamad, Demo Joab Usman Kalla and Shehu Ahmad Maigandi

      The one-humped camel (Camelus dromedarius) is a multipurpose domestic animal. It is well adapted to the harsh conditions of the arid and semi-arid zones and therefore thrives where other livestock species do not. The dromedary is versatile and its ability to survive and perform in the harsh, arid and semi-arid areas of the world has earned it a good reputation amongst pastoralists of tropical Africa and Asia (Waziri/Shehu/Kwari 1999). Camel keeping is a common activity in the Nigeria-Niger border areas. The dromedaries are found in the northern parts of Nigeria on latitudes 8°N and 14°N. According to Bourn et al....

    • Afterword: Camels and Deserts
      (pp. 231-236)
      Richard W. Bulliet

      In the summer of 1967 the thought struck me that in my many years of studying classical Arabic I had never encountered any reference to a wheeled vehicle. This thought prompted me to wonder whether the long history of Middle Eastern chariots and ox-carts so vividly portrayed in the Bible and uncovered by Egyptian and Mesopotamian archeology had come to an end before the Arab conquests of the seventh century. Pursuing this further, I concluded that wheels did, indeed, disappear from the region in late antiquity and that the reason for their disappearance was the cost advantage that the pack...

  9. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 237-242)
  10. Index
    (pp. 243-246)
    (pp. 247-292)