The land where Heifer International works in northern Tanzania is so parched in the dry season that dust devils assault the landscape. This is where camels can become lifesavers, as one man discovered.
Elijah Lemayan Sokino joined a Heifer International camel project ten years ago designed to deal with the effects of periodic drought in the area. His family, like other Masai, depended on goats and cattle for their livelihood, but in years when the rains didn’t come, the cattle died. For the semi-nomadic people, this was distressing and perilous.
Even though the new camels were big and unfamiliar, Elijah stuck with them. He learned to love them. When drought struck again a few years later, families who had dismissed the animals returned to him, seeing that the camels survived when their own cattle did not. Worried they would starve, Elijah redistributed his camels to them.
Now, the family’s camels produce milk that sells for a good price in nearby towns, and people in the area call Elijah “Mr. Camel.”
You can help other families get this kind of independence with the gift of a camel.
Some things you may not know about these amazing creatures:
- Camels can survive in environments with very little water and can eat vegetation other animals can’t.
- Camels can drink up to 25 gallons of water at a time.
- Camel’s milk has three times as much Vitamin C as cow’s milk, and is rich in iron, unsaturated fatty acids and B vitamins.
- Camel hair can be woven into rugs and tents, and their manure can be burned for fuel.
- There are about ten times as many Dromedary camels (the ones with one hump) as Bactrian (with two humps), and most of them live in the Horn of Africa or Middle East.
- Camels have been called the “ships of the desert” for their ability to carry large loads across the sand.
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