Be less camel

The desert can be greener than you expect. Certainly, it was greener than I expected. 

That was what I saw on a recent visit to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. Our guide explained why. The Reserve doesn’t only restrict access for humans. The vast surrounding fence also keeps the camels out.

Camels have been taught to be greedy over generations of domestication by humans (a heritage estimated at over 3000 years). That means rather than being fair, they simply take all the food available to them, and often eat the whole of growing plants, roots and all. In contrast, wild animals – in the Reserve’s case, Arabian oryx (formerly extinct in the wild but now deemed only vulnerable) and gazelles – tend to be fair to others and to the future by only browsing from the plant life, allowing future regrowth. 

This contrast is in spite the fact that the camel, famously, can store large amounts of food for its future. The influence of humans on the animals’ domesticated brain appears to have been pernicious.

Without the unfair feeding activities of camels, the Reserve is therefore green as well as sandy yellows and reds, as the photo shows. 

And the lesson for all of us seeking to be fair to others and to the future: be less camel.