This paper describes the indigenous system of camel pastoralism used in Ceeldheer District of Central Somalia. It reviews camel ownership, herd structure, foraging, watering, breeding, and milking, and the role of camelmen in general. It is based on a field study conducted by the author in 1986 and 1987.
Ceeldheer, the southern-most district in Galguduud Region, Central Somalia, is located along the Indian Ocean. Its area of about 9000 sq km contains three physiognomic regions which form the major camel habitat. The first (region), Xarar, is a Transitional zone of grass - shrubland adjacent to an extensive grass plain. It is level to gently undulating, extending along the coast. The second (region), Carroguduud or Central Ridge, occupies the centre of the District. It has gentle slopes forming gullies in the eastern slopes which carry seasonal streams through the transitional zone and disappear in the grassland plain, never reaching the coast. The Central Ridge is closed to foraging of livestock during wet seasons (period of most intensive vegetative growth) because of incidence of a riibi - a biting fly which is also a disease vector for animals. The third (region), Buur or West, is an inland plateau. It has level to gently undulating slopes with stabilised, sometimes large, sand hills.
Traditional livestock production systems in Somalia involve camels as a source of food, prestige and security against environmental disasters. Many livestock production planners and researchers, especially foreign experts, have overlooked the usefulness of camels for the Somali pastoralists and their importance in the national economy. This paper discusses camel pastoralism, ownership, herd structure, foraging, watering, breeding, milking and the role of camelmen in Ceeldheer District of Central Somalia. It aims to provide an in depth understanding of the entire camel production system for livestock developers and policymakers.