There has been a trend of growing numbers of camels in the world between 2001 and 2011 (FAO, 2013). This increase might be attributed to changing of environment form the savannah to arid and semi-arid condition, development in camel farming, and an improved ecological image of camel farming and products. The total camelids population in the world in 2013 was estimated at around 25 million animals. This number is probably underestimated because camels are migrant animals. It is difficult to conduct a census for camels such as the wild Australian camel population. The general estimate of the camel world population may probably be around 30 million head (Faye, 2013). About 88% of the camels are found in Africa, while Asia has 12%. The main concentration of dromedary camels in Africa is in the East African countries with 80% of the total camel population raised under various production systems.
The most important countries with a camel population of more than 1 million are Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Niger, Mauritania, Chad, and Kenya. A significant proportion (71% of total world camels) of the world camel population is found in countries defined by FAO as Net Food Importing Developing Countries, Low Income Food Deficit Countries hold 68% of total world camels and Least Developed Countries had 59% of total world camels (Kadim et. al., 2014). Nigeria in particular has about 28,000 camels (NASS, 2011) which are concentrated in the Sahelian region of the North western part of Nigeria (FDCPLS, 1992).
The dromedary camels adopted themselves to the ecosystem of dry and hot zone where they are subjected to hash condition in addition to severe fluctuation in the nutritional status, which in turn affect their general performance (Wardeh, 2004). The camel possesses unique features which make it superior to other domestic animals in the hot and arid desert ecosystem. This is reinforced by the ability of the camel to traverse considerable distance with much less effort than other species. Camel physiology and special features are therefore not only of scientific interest, but are the basic substance for people who live in marginal dry land areas (Wernery, 2006). The dromedary Camels (Camelus dromedarius) like any other herbivores animals grazing in the arid range lands are seasonally challenged with shortage of feeds and water, both in quantity and quality. However, they are known for their ability to survive and produce milk even during critical periods of dry seasons and droughts (Moaeen-ud-Din et al., 2004).
Camels are of great socio-economic importance in the lives of pastoral people living in the arid areas of the world (Bahgat, 1991). It‟s unaccounted for service to the human being under harsh climatic conditions and within highly marginalized ecosystem continues since ancient times (Altaf, 2000). Despites the growing rates of urbanization in several countries, Camels population has not shown a downward trend. This fact itself speaks of the useful role of one-humped camel (Khan et al., 1998). Camels have unique capabilities and characteristics, they can be milked, ridden, loaded with baggage, eaten, harnessed to plough and used for other important agricultural operations, traded for goods and exhibited in the Zoo (Iqbal, 1999). Despite the activeness of camels among farm animals, it has remained the most neglected animal in terms of its improvement and scientific researches (Field, 2005). The versatility of camels to survive and perform a great role in the arid and semi-arid regions and its unique physiological system should motivate the researchers to study it more closely to further exploit its potentials. In Kenya, camels have traditionally provided milk, meat and blood for subsistence and have socio-cultural value among the pastoral communities (Field, 2005). Unlike other ecological zones, camels in the arid areas mainly depend on natural native plants to meet all their nutritional requirements (Simpkin, 1998, Kuria et al., 2004). In Australia, more than 80% of the vegetations in the arid zone are consumed by camels. The animals mostly consume the freshest plant species, ignoring many other potential food plants. They also show distinct preferences for some plant species regardless of their nutritional supply. During the dry periods, leaves from trees and shrubs are the major dietary components. In the wetter periods, they predominantly utilize ground vegetation of which they are mainly forbs. Grasses also serve as some dietary feeds at the beginning of the season when forbs have not yet grown sufficiently (Kuria et al., 2004).
The importance of animal protein especially meat cannot be over emphasized as it contributes to physical and mental development from birth until growth stops. Therefore, it is apparent for every human being to consume sufficient amount of animal protein as insufficient of it can lead to some nutritional diseases and reduced body resistant to diseases. There is need to match the growing population with sufficient amount of protein (Akinimtimi, 2004). However, over the years, Nigerians have been finding it increasingly difficult to meet their demand for animal protein foods. This has resulted in the increasing importation of meat and milk products in recent years. The recommended Per Capita protein intake is estimated at 85.90g, out of which 34.00g should be of animal origin (Abdul Kadir, 1984). However, average Nigerian consumes between 3.25g to 8.60g of animal protein per day as compared to the 34g recommended by FAO (2002). Compared with other developed countries (U.S.A., 64g; Denmark, 57g; United Kingdom, 54g and Germany, 49g) it is obvious that the intake level of Nigerians is grossly inadequate. While solutions to these problems are being sought, it is pertinent to look for other potential sources of animal protein that will reflect the current interest in the camel as an alternative source of protein and energy. Concomitantly, camels have been used in the countries it is found to substitute for other domestic stock as a source of meat and milk (Akinmutinin, 2004)