We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Which Animals Are Replacing Cattle in Parts of Africa?

Margaret Lipman
By
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

For millennia, cows have been one of the most important animals in Africa, providing milk and meat along with social and economic status. They have also formed the basis for countless traditions across the continent.

Yet in recent years, cattle herders in many parts of Africa have faced extremely trying times. Unpredictable weather patterns, particularly droughts, have put once-flourishing herds at risk, endangering the lives of the people who depend on them for sustenance. The Horn of Africa felt this particularly acutely during the drought that lasted from 2020 to 2023, resulting in severely limited water supplies and grazable land. In certain parts of Kenya, around 80% of cows died as a direct consequence of the drought, yet most camels survived.

As a result, in places like Samburu County, located 240 miles (386 km) north of Nairobi, pastoralists are turning to camels as an alternative to cows. For example, in Samburu, the regional government is subsidizing the purchase of around 4,000 camels to distribute among cattle herders who lost almost everything during the drought.

Though frequently described as slightly salty, camel milk provides much of the same nutrition as cow’s milk, typically with a lower fat content and a higher mineral content. Camel milk production requires less feed and water than cow milk production, and results in fewer carbon dioxide and methane emissions.

The shift from cows to camels has been underway for decades in parts of Kenya and Ethiopia but has accelerated as the effects of climate change become more pronounced. In the past two decades, the global camel population has doubled. The reasoning for changing ancient livestock-keeping practices seems obvious: camels are better equipped to handle drought conditions than cows, not only in terms of survival but also milk production. Though cows currently outnumber camels in Africa by a ratio of 10 to 1, camels are increasingly looking like a safer and more reliable choice.

In praise of camels:

  • Camels are uniquely equipped to endure extreme temperatures with little to drink. Unlike cows, which can only survive for a couple of days without water, camels can last for two weeks.

  • Camels' capacity to survive on limited food is among the most impressive of any mammal. They can lose up to 30 percent of their body weight.

  • To stay cool, a camel’s body temperature fluctuates. They also cool off by urinating on their legs, and when relaxing, they are able to keep their undersides above the ground thanks to their tough knees.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman , Writer and editor
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.

Discussion Comments

Margaret Lipman

Margaret Lipman

Writer and editor

With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.