Times of Oman
Ph.D student researching source of beauty in Omani camels
July 1, 2017 | 9:56 PM
by Halima Al Busaidi /[email protected]
Ph.D. student is investigating the genetic traits of Omani camels to find out what makes them beautiful. This breakthrough project will assist camel societies, breeders, and the industry in the Sultanate of Oman.
 
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Muscat: A Ph.D. student is investigating the genetic traits of Omani camels to find out what makes them beautiful.

This breakthrough project will assist camel societies, breeders, and the industry in the Sultanate of Oman.

“Our project will provide a framework and open new areas of research where genetic traits of racing and production camels can be investigated so the biology, physiology, nutrition, and behaviour of these wonderful animals can be further understood,” said Mahmood Al Amri, a Ph.D. student at Sydney University.

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He started the research project in February 2016 under the supervision of Associate Professor Jamie Gongora. The study has the backing of both the Ministry of Higher Education and the Office of Royal Court Affairs.

Al Amri, who is also the head of the Camel Health Department at the Veterinary Research Centre in the Directorate of Veterinary Services at the Royal Courts, added, “We will generate baseline information that will help in the understanding of the diversity of Omani camel types that can be applied to different husbandry systems.

Better guidance

Improved knowledge of Omani camel traits and which type and breeds are involved will give better guidance as to how to breed for certain features and phenotypic characteristics.”

“The project will develop a scoring card that will be used by judges of camel beauty competitions to formally record the measurements and score given to each camel during the competition. It will allow for a more transparent process in making decisions, which is likely to increase the satisfaction of owners and keepers of the camels entered in those competitions,” said Professor Gongora.

The initial measurements will be taken from camels in beauty competitions around Oman. The data analysis and genetic work obtained will be set into motion at the University of Sydney, Australia.

Abdullah Said Al Malki, a camel owner and breeder from Barka, who specializes in raising beauty camels, provided an insight into what he believes, are characteristics of a beauty camel.

“The camel’s neck should be straight, with a large hump, the hair should be soft, large lips, and the cheeks, wide.”

"All the details of the camels are inspected during a beauty competition, the ears should be straight up and not lying down, and the space between each ear should be wide, the nose should be large, the eyes should be clean, dark and sharp,” added Al Malki.

The current scoring system for beauty camels is based mainly on a traditional oral system developed by the Local Assessment Committee in Oman.

“There are three judges who examine the camel and use a majority system, so if two of the judges agree then that is a camel that wins,” said Al Malki.

“I would like to help develop and preserve a unique breed of Omani camels that have special characteristics and hold the key to the diversity of breeding systems in order to keep and enhance the Omani camel traits and features,” Al Amri concluded.

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