By Surmounting a Few Production Humps, Camel Milk Could Bring in Billions

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By Surmounting a Few Production Humps, Camel Milk Could Bring in Billions

News article

By: Anonymous

Date: April 19, 2006

Source: United Nations News Centre. "By Surmounting a Few Production Humps, Camel Milk Could Bring in Billions." April 19, 2006 〈〉 (accessed July 12, 2006).

About the Author: Founded in 1946, the United Nations is an international mediation and aid agency. Its various divisions help mediate political disputes, police militarily unstable regions, and work to improve living conditions throughout the world.


The nomadic lifestyle, in which people regularly relocate from place to place with all their possessions, has existed for centuries. Prior to the development of agriculture and the need to remain near crops, many families subsisted by moving from place to place. In some cultures, these moves were undertaken to follow game animals such as the buffalo of North America. Desert regions, which provided little opportunity for agriculture or extensive grazing in a single location often gave rise to nomadic lifestyles, as herders moved their animals to find new food sources.

In most developed countries, nomadic lifestyles are the exception today, because modern life often revolves around a fixed home, schools, employment, and other immobile elements of industrialized life. Nomadic life in the early twenty-first century is limited primarily to less developed areas of the world, and even in these regions political and economic changes are forcing nomads to adjust their lifestyles.

In Saudi Arabia, where nomadic herders have traveled the desert for centuries, around 100,000 remain. However, nomadic life has become more difficult in recent years. Camels, the traditional workhorse of the dessert, have become much more expensive to maintain. Previously extensive rangeland has been severely curtailed by urban growth, limiting the nomads to a sharply reduced range. International competition has also changed the nomadic way of life, as imported sheep and goats reduce the price nomadic herders receive for their livestock.

Some nomads today practice a hybrid lifestyle, choosing to remain within a limited area so their children may attend school. In other cases, nomads take part-time jobs on game hunting ranches to earn the cash they now require to buy water and feed for their livestock. Because of range restrictions, many of the traditional pasture areas have been overgrazed, forcing ever increasing investments in feed and water. In some ways, the new lifestyle of many nomads has come to more closely resemble ranching. As a result of these changes, nomads are being gradually drawn into the mainstream community, at least economically and in many cases geographically.


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[This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions]


China's Xinjiang province is home to more than one million residents, most of them historically nomadic. In 2004 the Chinese government began a massive project to relocate these residents into more permanent government-funded communities with modern housing and schools. The result was a generational shift as a traditionally nomadic population adopted a fixed lifestyle. In the newly settled communities, livestock survival rates have climbed in the initial years following the change, however only time will tell how well the human residents adapt to their new surroundings and lifestyle.

Modern technology has enabled some previously fixed workers to adopt a more nomadic existence. While many creative undertakings such as writing and publishing have long depended on the ability to easily transport or mail paper documents, the advent of widespread e-mail access has allowed many such workers to labor in virtually any location. As an example, this book was created by authors and editors who are geographically separated on multiple continents and in some cases have never met in person. For such workers, technology has eliminated the need for a fixed work location.

For many years, seniors in northern climates have followed an annual migratory path to Florida each year, living in rented housing there to avoid the harsh winters at home. Some retirees are taking this practice one step further by selling their primary residences and living entirely in a motor home or other recreational vehicle as they travel. In some cases, they fill part-time jobs at national parks and other tourist locations, while others simply travel and sightsee. These modern nomads are known in Australia as Grey Nomads and are found on virtually every continent.

While senior nomads appear likely to proliferate, the future of the traditional nomadic life appears cloudy. Some nomads have already accepted the need to do business with the outside world and are experiencing both the benefits and the costs of such an arrangement. Some nomadic people will undoubtedly choose to maintain their existing lifestyle; however, increasing communication with the outside world may lead some of their offspring to abandon their traditional lifestyle for a more modern existence. The exit of the young, combined with increasing economic pressure can be expected to put tremendous pressure on nomads in the coming years.



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Grant, Richard. American Nomads: Travels with Lost Conquistadors, Mountain Men, Cowboys, Indians, Hoboes, Truckers, and Bullriders. New York: Grove Press, 2003.

Khazanov, Anatoly. Nomads and the Outside World. Milwaukee: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994.


Abraham, Curtis. "Unsettled Existence." New Scientist. 189 (2006): 18.

Garcea, Elena. "Semi-Permanent Foragers in Semi-Arid Environments of North Africa." World Archeology. 38 (2006): 197-219.

Ward, Christopher J. "Mongols, Turks, and Others: Eurasian Nomads and the Sedentary World." New York Times. 17 (2006): 95-97.

Web sites

Academy of Natural Sciences. "Horsemen of the Mongolian Steppes: Nomadic Life Beyond the Great Wall." 〈〉 (accessed July 12, 2006).

China Daily. "1 Million Xinjiang Herdsmen Say Goodbye to Nomadic Life." August 8, 2005 〈–08/08/content_467256.htm〉 (accessed July 12, 2006).