Do you have a dog or cat? Do you feel connected to animals and are interested in learning more about them?
As an animal friend, you might have noticed that the perception of animals varies a lot from species to species, and often also from country to country. In China even dogs are considered as “living things”(the translation for animal in Chinese), while in countries like the US it’ s not rare to find luxurious Spas exclusively for beloved dog or cat companions.
But what about different type of animals, like let’s say camels?
They don’t belong into the category of edible animals (for non-vegetarians, and not even by Chinese standards). Nor do they belong into the category of animals separated by most people from other animals by labeling them as cute or cuddly, aka dogs, cats, hamsters and the like.
What do you associate with camels? Think about it. And after having read this, please think again.
Camels are surely one of those animals highly prejudiced by society. And that’ s just a tiny bit of what I learned when I met the Camel Whisperer, Henk Van Eek, at his workplace in Monkey Mia, Western Australia.
Getting to know a dutch Camelwhisperer
I encountered him and his gentle camels for the first time a year ago while exploring the Australian Westcoast. More specifically, it was at the beach of Monkey Mia, a place famous for its dolphin feeding and for its remoteness.
I must admit that I felt slightly intimidated at first, as my first impression of Henk consisted in him being almost overprotective of his camels. He insisted that I should not come too close to his animals or take pictures of them without going for a ride. ‘What a grump’, was therefore one of my first thoughts.
However, as “Riding on a Camel” was an important item on my “Things-to-do-before-I-die” – Bucket list, and as I find any kind of animals generally pretty interesting – and sometimes so much more friendly than some humans -, I decided to give it a go. And I was up for a fair bit of a surprise!
Once save and sound on camel Ally’s back, a “camelus dromedarius” proceeding from Northern Africa and Afghanistan, the ride along the paradisiacal beach of Monkey Mia could begin.
While I was marveling at the deep blue of the wide open sky seeming to melt into the clear blue waters of the Indian Ocean, Henk started telling me all about his fascinating life story. And of course also about his friendly camels! He was leading the two camels Lou and Ally, who were kindly carrying my partner and me along the beach while he shared his experiences with us.
Henk had been sailing the seven seas as a captain after growing up in Holland where he had learned all about animals from his granddad, a veterinarian and animal lover. He had also lived with indigenous people in South America, who as Henk stated were used to communicating in telepathic ways. Yes, sceptics of the world, this weird stuff can apparently really work. A true adventurer and animal lover, it was obvious that Henk heart’s calling lay in protecting his camels and teaching people the truth about these amazing creatures.
The truth about Camels
I developed quite some admiration for Ally, Lou and their mates when I got to know the following facts:
- Camels can raise their temperature about seven Degrees as soon as it gets hot. Like this, they makes sure they do not even lose a drop of moisture through sweating. HOW HANDY IS THAT?
- A pregnant camel which just doesn’ t feel like giving birth can deliberately stop the process for up to two months by letting the baby go into hibernation. Now, how useful is that one? Great skill to have, don’t you agree?
- The first Australian settlers would have had quite some problems without these creatures-the good old horses soon resigned, alas laid down their heads and died, when the settlers wanted to find out what was behind the shoreline. And who came into play then? Yes, you are right, the camel fellows. Unimpressed by heat and hardship, they went on in search for food and water.
- Camels also have the stunning ability to go without water for long periods, without drinking anything- probably longer than many people can without a beer.Why? They can store water in their blood stream! Freaky!
On this year’s ride, Henk also shared that he had freed one of his camels from a farm in Yallingup, where it had been severely abused by his “owner” at the time. Since then, Lou still does not particularly fancy young ladies with long blond hair- as that’s what his former “owner” looked like.
Sadly, the abuse of camels is common, even in countries like Australia: The most frequent being drilling through the camel’s nose and using a nosepeg to assure the camel’s obedience. Would you like to have that procedure done to you? I guess you see my point.
And in Africa, the herdsmen have a tendency to treat their camels fairly rough, as I learned from Harry Raffil Anderson, who grew up on a farm in Kenia.”It’s a fact. They don’t on average care for the feelings of animals. They are a means to an end, a practical utility”, states Harry when I ask him about the treatment of camels in his home continent.
Getting up close and personal with these gentle animals at Monkey Mia and learning how much abuse they usually have to endure makes me want to confirm again how incredibly friendly and helpful they really are. And I can also attest by experience now that camels:
- Don’ t spit
- Don’ t stink
- Don’t sink: they are awesome swimmers and use a refined method of breaststroke swimming.
Instead, they love to be patted and to smile into cameras. If you wanna learn more about camels and go for a ride with them- check out Shark Bay Camel Safaris. It’s definitely an awesome adventure!
Let’s care for and connect with Nature and the beautiful animal world – what could be more important and worthwhile?
How do you feel about camels ? Did you ever get the chance to go on a ride with them?