Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says Camelids are humanity’s true allies in combating desertification.

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  • The FAO inaugurated an exhibition hosted by Saudi Arabia, which showcased the evolution of the camelid sector in the country.
  • The exhibition showcased the importance of the camelid sector (including camels, alpacas, llamas, etc.) for millions dependent on these animals in drylands and mountainous regions.
  • The Saudi Ministry of Culture also introduced “a camel studies grant”. 
  • It is “an initiative designed to highlight the essential role camels play in Saudi Arabia’s cultural, social, and economic spheres through rigorous scientific research.
  • Camels serve as a vital resource in challenging environments by providing milk, meat, organic fertilizer, and transportation for local communities and Indigenous Peoples. Additionally, their hooves play a role in preventing soil erosion.
  • The FAO highlights their potential to contribute to the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

  • FAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.
  • Headquarters: Rome, Italy
  • Established in 1945, the FAO leads international efforts to defeat hunger and improve nutrition and food security for all.

Global Collaboration: As a specialized UN agency, the FAO works with governments, other UN agencies, NGOs, and the private sector to achieve its goals.

2024 as the International Year of Camelids

  • The UN has designated 2024 as the International Year of Camelids and was officially launched on 4 December 2023.
  • The UN General Assembly approved the proposal in 2017 based on the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) recommendation.
  • This initiative, led by Bolivia and Ecuador, aims to raise awareness about their social, economic, and environmental contributions to sustainable development. 
  • Saudi Arabia, a strong supporter of this campaign, has designated 2024 as its “Year of the Camel” and will host the UN Convention to Combat Desertification conference in December.
  • The International Year of Camelids highlights the crucial role these animals play in the livelihoods of millions of households across over 90 countries.

About Camelids

Camelids are a family of mammals that includes camels, llamas, alpacas, guanacos, and vicuñas. They are known for their remarkable adaptations to harsh environments, especially arid regions and high altitudes.

There are two main groups of camelids: Old World Camelids and New World Camelids.

Old World Camelids are found in northern Africa and central Asia. Old World Camelids are characterized by their humps on their backs and the dulla. The dulla is an organ found on the throat of male camels and is believed to be associated with dominance displays among males and attracting females.

These include: 

  • Dromedary camels (one-humped camel)
  • Bactrian camels (two-humped camel)

New World Camelids are found in South America. Wild populations of South American Camelids, such as vicuñas, inhabit the high-altitude regions of the Andes Mountains.

These include: 

  • Llamas
  • Alpacas
  • Guanacos
  • Vicuñas

General features of Camelids:

  • Even-toed ungulates: Camelids have soft-padded, snowshoe-like feet with two toes on each foot.
  • Split upper lips: Their upper lips are split into two independent mobile protrusions.
  • Long necks and slender legs
  • Herbivores: Camelids are plant-eating mammals with a unique digestive system that allows them to extract nutrients from fibrous plant material.
  • Ruminants with unique features: Unlike other ruminants, camelids have true canine teeth and three-chambered stomachs (other ruminants have four chambers).
  • Herd animals: One of their most recognizable traits is their ability to form herds for social interaction and protection.

Types of Camels found in India:

  • Kharai Camel found in Kutch (Gujarat)
  • Bactrian Camel found in Nubra valley (Ladakh)
  • Dromedaries Camel found in desert of Gujarat and Rajasthan

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