How to Train Your Camel – Part 2
by Mohamad El Gasmi – Nomad Author.
Camels – one of the very few animals that have adapted to desert difficulties which is a miracle on a land of loss, on a land whereabouts everything looks the same. So this lesson is about camels themselves and their miracles. This is not the actual training steps that I am about to tell you, but it is more related to the entity that is going to be trained.
What I am going to tell might not exist in other animals, due to the fact that camels are special, both physically and in their behaviour. What is well known about camels is that they can stay without water for a long time, maybe for months when the weather is cold and sometimes for weeks during summer when the weather is hot. A camel also has a strong mind, it do remember everything, especially places of water and food. If it drink from a well or an old lake, it will not forget it, even if years pass, for it can smell water from rain hundreds of miles away.
It knows the voice of its herdsman, it could separate his voice from other herders voices, but this isn’t everything about it, there are other hidden facts that you have to know.
Camels are the most jealous animals I have ever seen, more than a lot of humans, mostly camels fight to death during the courtship, they kill each other! The camel male can play the role of herding the pack alone, be sure you won’t find a lot of males in the pack like other animals, there is only one, who guides the whole pack everywhere and he never forget one of the females or the babies somewhere else. He separates his females from other male’s females, sometimes you find two packs herding in the same place and you find males standing somewhere between the two huge packs stopping each other’s females from entering the other pack.
What is special is that each one respect the other properties. But what I find also very special about it is that if a camel baby get lost somewhere in the desert, or he went off with another pack while he was playing with their camel babies, he go to the last place he suck milk in, even if it is a few hours walk away and he waits for his mother for a day and if she doesn’t come he goes to the previous place he sucked milk and the mother does the same and if they are lucky, they meet each other again there, it is a miracle! Probably we humans wouldn’t do the same in that situation.
And I have seen that camels create friendship between each other. Sometimes you find three female who used to go together everywhere, like friends, and if one get lost, the other will keep making sounds and looking for it, forgetting the whole pack. In summer, when there is no courtship, the males go together, and the females go together, they meet only in the place of water, then each group goes back to their favourite place, but what I tell you isn’t everything.
Nomads also say that camel always remember, and it do remember your behaviour, especially the friendly one and the trained ones. Why is it so with the trained ones maybe you are asking yourself? It is because there is a trust connection which encourages a closeness in different situations whereas the wild ones are afraid of humans considering them an unknown threat. If you ever hurt the camel’s dignity – it gets its own revenge in the future! That is why I don’t find better than a real story that happened to my relative to tell you about.
He told me that during the courtship time in winter they had to change their place and set up camp in another place whereabouts food is available more, but the problem was they didn’t have enough camels to carry their stuff because most were separated from the pack due to the fact that the dominant male won’t accept another male within his pack. So in this case, they had to use the dominant male of the pack to carry a tent and some other stuffs. They took a long journey, the camel was all the time trying to take off the bags, because it seems that hurt him, he wanted to follow his females, and the men were trying to stop him all the time. They say that the camel looked disappointed and he didn’t like the indignity of having to carry the bags. After they arrive at the place they were heading to, the camel did not make sounds of courtship again and he just stop reacting to females, and forget that he was the dominant male, and they had to bring another male for the camel’s pack.
Years passed, and my relative was heading alone with this camel to a far away place in the desert. He said that he tie the camel from the two front feet, and he stay next to fire waiting the dinner to get cooking, but when he ate, he noticed that the camel had changed his place and it was just weird because he came closer to the place the man was sleeping. The man took the camel away again and tied it again and he went to his sleeping place. But this time he was alert and he kept watching the action through the blanket. He saw that the camel was moving slowly towards him again. The man discovered that the situation was not for him, and he decided to leave the sleeping place and hid behind a tree, watching the camel from a distance. Then, later on, the camel reached the place the man had been sleeping and he started biting the blanket and he kept banging his hard chest up and down on the sleeping place thinking that the man was under the blanket.
Finally, the man discovered that this camel was trying to kill him!
What we understand from the story is that the camel’s dignity was broken and he decided to take revenge from the man, so camels are very smart animals, and we should pay attention to their behaviour. This is a lesson for humans that we don’t have to hurt each others dignity, if an animal did this just imagine how a human might react.
I remember that during a summer day, when I was small boy, I was giving water to camels in the well and there was a lot of camels. I was confused because the camel kept putting his head in my way, so I hit the camel on its face with a stick in order to frighten him and make him change his place. But my when my grandfather saw me hitting the camel, he was very furious about that, he told me that hitting Allah’s creatures on their head is guilt and it is forbidden because you would be looking down at it and that would hurt its emotions.
Stay tuned for Part 3 as our Nomad Storyteller from the Moroccan Sahara, shares camel training tips, desert myths & legends and nomadic culture stories with us all.
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Use of featured image courtesy of Dean Patman