Camel forage variety in the Karamoja subregion, Uganda

Camels have the potential to increase the resilience of pastoral communities to the impacts of climate variability and change. Despite this potential, there is limited documentation of the camel forage species, their availability and distribution. The study was conducted in Karamoja sub-region in Uganda and involved assessment of vegetation with intent to characterize the range of forage species available for camels in the region. The camel grazing area was stratified based on land cover types, namely woodland, bushland, grassland and farmland using the Amudat and Moroto district vegetation maps. Vegetation plots measuring 20 m× 20 m were mapped out among the land cover types where species identification was undertaken. In addition, a cross-sectional survey involving 52 camel herders was used to document the camel forage species preferences. Shannon and Simpson diversity indices as well as the Jaccard coefficient were used to measure the species richness, relative abundance, diversity and plant community similarities among the land cover types. Results showed high species richness and diversities in the bushland and woodland land cover types. Plant communities in the woodland and bushlands were found to be more similar. A wide range of plant species were reported to be preferred by camels in the study area, that is 63 in Amudat and 50 in Moroto districts. respectively, with Balanites, Euphorbia and several Acacia species taking precedence. Therefore, given the diversity of camel forage species, this study recommends increased adoption of camel rearing in Karamoja sub-region. Further, the camel owners are encouraged to undertake conservation management and deliberate production of preferred forage species such as Euphorbia tirucalli that also exhibit ease of propagation and adaptability to the sub-region. This browse could support the milking herd and the camel calves that remain at the homesteads. A toxicological analysis of E. tirucalli is however recommended, given irritant latex discharge, prior to taking this recommendation to scale.
Date of publication: 
Region Focus: 
East Africa
RUFORUM Journal Articles
Licence conditions: 
Open Access
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Project sponsor: 
RUFORUM (Grant no. RU/2015/GRG-117)
Justine Jumba Namaalwa
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