It was the first relationship with an animal in Oasis Park Fuerteventura. At first there were only three dromedaries but today there are 400. The largest Camel Reserve in Europe owes much to the camel drivers, only they understand such a complex and special animal.
The Camel Drivers acompany the camels for a lifetime: they see them born, they give them their first bottle, watch them grow and accompany them in their daily walks. It is precisely in the caravans where both establish a relationship that brings them even closer together, Because camels always need a trusted person at their side. The words of affection and the rattle the camels themselves make are a very special sound universe on the route of our visitors.
Each camel is named after one of the fifteen camel drivers.. When they call “Mbark” they are often confused and do not know if they are calling the caregiver or the animal. This very close relationship paves the way for the camels to familiarize themselves with the thousands of visitors who admire them each and every day. Their majesty does not impose on the tourists as they do not have to be very bold to caress their neck or back. Dromedaries –or simply camels, as they are called in the Canaries, have been desensitized and are very calm with the sounds and the touch of the tourists. And so it has been for over 25 years.
A caregiver recognized, a caregiver followed. Although they show closeness, they are also unpredictable since they do not stop being animals, as acknowledged by the head of the Camel Reserve, Julio Cruz. Safety first – assures Mbark, responsible for security in the caravans. He comes from Morocco, where he grew up around the Guelphs and camels and so he is a broad connoisseur of this species. He and his compatriots, convey his knowledge, his handling of the camels because it is a part of their culture. Recently the community of camel drivers received a camel animal management course run by Julio Cruz and Elena Díaz, PhD a veterinary researcher whose theme focuses on the properties of camel milk.
Veterinarians and camel drivers
Both maintain constant communication to verify that the camels have good health, the camel drivers and the vets. They are really a team! The Dairy is the main focus, each day the vet team goes there. Controlling the weight of the Guelphs, checking for possible injuries and parasites, and so on. And the adults? Also they receive medical care once a week. Any suspicion that a camel is not in good condition, notice is given to the veterinary services immediately. So it is very common to see the purple uniform and green polo shirts. Early diagnosis and cure; the second witness of the before and after. It is a perfect combination in favor of the camels.
The care of the females, the care in the corrals
For a couple of years camels have had their home in the extensions of the corrals. They do not go to the caravans. The camel historically has been and is a work animal, but males respond better to the rides because they are stronger. Thus mothers and their camels Guelphs remain all day and night together. Fortunately we have more and more new mothers and are those that most need to recognize their offspring and release the hormone oxytocin for attachment.
Sometimes Camel Drivers are the essential link to favor the union. They mediate the camels for six or seven hours after delivery to ensure that everything went well. And from there, observation is key. So when a new camel driver is added to this great family, not only do they have to know this world but be a constant observer of animal behavior –states Julio Cruz.
And there is Brahim, a caregiver who knows the names of more than 350 camels. After the time of birth, he must now learn about the new Guelphs. He is a man of few words because more than sounds gives joy to the Little ones, they often start jumping when they smell the milk in the bottle freshly prepared for them.
Camel Drivers are the voice of the camels, they work closely with the veterinary team if they detect any anomalies; they ensure the welfare of their daily companions, the camels.