First Person

Could camels be the new cash cow? Watch them slurp–then decide

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Photo by Eva-Lotta Jansson/Oxfam America
Photo by Eva-Lotta Jansson/Oxfam America

A man in the Netherlands is trying to cash in on what the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization says could someday be a $10 billion market for goods produced from camel’s milk. According to the New York Times, Frank Smits has imported a small herd of the lanky, cranky creatures and is coaxing milk out of them at the rate of a gallon and a half a day per camel. And he’s selling it, hardened into cheese, for $60 a pound.

I’m not so sure about their milk (or the price of their cheese), but I have to admit, I’m kind of in love with camels—especially after a recent reporting trip to Ethiopia, where drought takes a swifter toll on lesser beasts. Camels can suffer, too, but not like cows. And increasingly, pastoralists in the southern part of the country are expanding their herds to include camels, prized for their endurance when the rain refuses to come. On this trip, it seemed like we were seeing them everywhere—saucer-footed and gangly—loping along the dusty tracks that snake through the region.

But as hardy as they may be in dry climates, camels need water just as much as the rest of us do. And there’s no sound quite as lusty as a crowd of them draining a trough. Here’s proof: Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Google+