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HERE AND THERE IN NORTHERN AFRICA
and are really dromedaries. Certain breeds of camels can withstand the great heat of the Sahara Desert and others that of the zero weather of Tibet and China.
The ordinary camels of northern Africa (dromedaries) cost from 150 to 300 francs (30 to 60 dollars) apiece, and they live on almost anything that they can find to eat by the roadside; hence it costs next to nothing for their native Arab owners to keep them. Should a European own camels and attempt to feed them with hay and grain, he would find that they ate a great deal, and that it would cost at least a dollar a day for each one.
During the Italian war in Tripoli the usual price for hiring a camel and its driver to take food supplies from Ben Garden to the Turkish camp was from 3 to 32 francs a day (60 to 70 cents). Between Kairouan and Sbeitla are many miles of bad land, where almost nothing thrives save the prickly pear. This has been cultivated by the natives, is rented out in great tracts, and has become a source of comfortable income.
It is amazing to see the rapidity with which a herd of 500 camels will eat to the ground a large pasturage of prickly pear from 8 to 10 feet high. Leaves, stems, prickles and all, disappear like magic.
HOW THE CAMEL'S HUMP GETS FAT
Throughout southern Tunisia and Algeria the natives keep all their date stones and give them to exhausted camels, weary from their long Sahara march.
The camel resists at first, and the date stones, moistened in a little water, are pushed forcibly, by the handful, down the camel's throat, after it has been made to kneel, and then securely fastened. In two or three days the camel learns to eat them of its own accord. The natives say that these date stones make the hump of the camel strong and stiff.
The camel in its long march across the Sahara frequently finds very little to eat and lives on the fat of its own hump. When this continues during a long time, the hump of the camel becomes flabby and almost disappears. The African
broad-tailed sheep lives in the same way on the fat of its own tail.
The flesh of a camel is eaten by the natives throughout the Sahara and northern Africa. The greatest delicacy is the hump, which contains a great deal of fat. One can always tell the condition of the animal by observing its hump. When a camel is weary, after a long march across the Sahara, its hump almost disappears, whereas when it starts out on a journey the hump is well defined.
Camels of Tunisia, Algeria, and Tripolitania are used almost entirely as beasts of burden, although in Tunisia one occasionally sees them drawing two-wheeled carts, or plowing. The usual weight of the burdens carried by a camel varies from 550 to 600 pounds; this is the average for the camels going from town to town along the coast or the borders of the Sahara.
Should they be planning to cross the Sahara, the weight of the burden would be less, as the strain of the month's journey through the desert is tremendous. The usual march when crossing the desert is 30 kilometers a day (about 20 miles), with an occasional day's rest.
When a camel is being ladened it keeps up a continual snarling, and should it be overburdened it refuses to arise.
Most camels are vicious and their bite is very dangerous. Hardly a week passes at the large native hospital in Tunis but some unfortunate camel driver dies of blood poisoning caused by a camel's bite.
The grinding motion of a camel's jaw crushes to pulp whatever it bites; so that the arm or leg has to be amputated, and bicod poisoning usually sets in before the patient can reach the hospital.
The ordinary camel would have difficulty in crossing the desert unless it were born and bred in it, and it would be folly for a man setting out on such a journey to select camels that were unused to the desert. The probabilities are that his caravan would never reach its journey's end.
Great care must be taken in selecting beasts of burden for a caravan trip across the Sahara, and camels must be secured at towns in the desert, where Sahara camels, accustomed to the great wastes of sand, are obtainable. Those
Throughout northern Africa hunting with falcons is a favorite sport with the native Arab population The female of the peregrine falcon is the best bird for purposes of the chase, representing the highest and most courageous type of all the birds of prey (see also page 34)