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Bedouin revert to nomadic lifestyle for camel birthing season

Camels rest at the night camp after grazing in the open all day near Kibbutz Kalya, in the West Bank, February 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Men leave modern life behind and bring sons and hundreds of camels to area near Kibbutz Kalya by the Dead Sea to continue ancient traditions

By ODED BALILTY

18 March 2018, 2:47 pm

  • Bedouin camel herder Ali Zarlul and his son Majed lead their camels close to Kibbutz Kalya, by the Dead Sea, February 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
    Bedouin camel herder Ali Zarlul and his son Majed lead their camels close to Kibbutz Kalya, by the Dead Sea, February 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
  • A Bedouin camel herder runs after a newborn camel on the way back to night camp near Kibbutz Kalya in the Dead Sea area, January 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
    A Bedouin camel herder runs after a newborn camel on the way back to night camp near Kibbutz Kalya in the Dead Sea area, January 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
  • Bedouin camel herder Ali Zarlul carries a newborn camel back to its mother near Kibbutz Kalya close to the Dead Sea, January 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
    Bedouin camel herder Ali Zarlul carries a newborn camel back to its mother near Kibbutz Kalya close to the Dead Sea, January 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
  • Camels rest at the night camp after grazing in the open all day near Kibbutz Kalya, in the West Bank, February 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
    Camels rest at the night camp after grazing in the open all day near Kibbutz Kalya, in the West Bank, February 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
  • Beduin camel owner Ali El Guran, left, and his camel herder Salem Rashaideh, have their breakfast at their camp near Kibbutz Kalya, Dead Sea, February 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

    Beduin camel owner Ali El Guran, left, and his camel herder Salem Rashaideh, have their breakfast at their camp near Kibbutz Kalya, Dead Sea, February 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

  • Camels, including this new born, gather at night camp near Kibbutz Kalya in the Dead Sea region, February 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
    Camels, including this new born, gather at night camp near Kibbutz Kalya in the Dead Sea region, February 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
  • Young Bedouin Majed Zarlul, who joins his father for camel herding during weekends, trying to coax a mule to an improvised mounting block at night camp near Kibbutz Kalya in the Dead Sea region, February 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
    Young Bedouin Majed Zarlul, who joins his father for camel herding during weekends, trying to coax a mule to an improvised mounting block at night camp near Kibbutz Kalya in the Dead Sea region, February 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
  • Bedouin camel herder Salem Rashaideh directs camels grazing near Kibbutz Kalya in the Dead Sea region of the West Bank, February 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
    A Bedouin camel herder runs after a newborn camel on the way back to night camp near Kibbutz Kalya in the Dead Sea area, January 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
    Bedouin camel herder Salem Rashaideh directs camels grazing near Kibbutz Kalya in the Dead Sea region of the West Bank, February 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

KIBBUTZ KALYA, West Bank (AP) — Each winter, camels lope around the moon-like desert landscape of the lowest place on Earth under the watchful eyes of their Bedouin Arab herders, in an ancient tradition passed from father to son over the generations.

Ali El Guran brings his herd of more than 100 camels from southern Israel to the Dead Sea every November to pasture. It’s birthing season and this year, 30 camels are pregnant.

Bedouin lifestyles have changed dramatically in the last few decades, with many leaving their traditional nomadic ways to settle in towns of southern Israel, trading their camels for pickup trucks and living off tourists instead of goat herds.

But for three months a year, El Guran and the other herders live as their forefathers have for generations.

A Bedouin camel herder runs after a newborn camel on the way back to night camp near Kibbutz Kalya in the Dead Sea area, January 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
A Bedouin camel herder runs after a newborn camel on the way back to night camp near Kibbutz Kalya in the Dead Sea area, January 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

It’s a simple life. The herders eat mainly bread and olive oil while drinking thick black coffee boiled on campfires. They sleep under the stars, near the herd, for weeks at a time. There is no cellphone coverage or other modern amenities.

El Guran and the others use the time to bond with their sons who have come with them to the pastures, away from the distractions of the contemporary world. They speak to the camels in a special language, directing them where to graze.

About a day before it’s time to give birth, the mother camels separate themselves from the herd, sometimes walking several kilometers (miles) to find a private spot. The herders later find them standing guard over the newborns, protecting them from wolves and jackals, the main predators in the area.

El Guran sells some of the baby camels as well as camel milk to make a living.

As winter comes to an end, the area gets very hot and the camels are taken to a higher elevation, where it’s cooler.

Until next winter.

Source: https://www.timesofisrael.com/bedouin-revert-to-nomadic-lifestyle-as-camels-give-birth/

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