Andrew McConnell



Lahbieb Embarek Ahmed

Age: 47
'Camel Man,' pictured in the desert near the Saharawi refugee camps, Algeria.


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I was born in Farsia in 1962. I only thing I know is camels. I have lived with camels and they have lived with me and that's all I know. I began to deal with camels when I was a very little child. I would look after them and take them to feed long distances sometimes if I wanted to milk them I had to take the bowl between my teeth and milk them. My father thought me under the camels. There are a lot of uses for the camels, we don't only drink their milk or eat the meat but we use it as a cure… we add oils from the camel to the milk and drink it for some diseases. And if they are sick I know how to treat them. If the camel doesn't want to eat I take a lizard and mix it with some plants and feed them it.

We owned about one hundred camels. It's difficult to look after camels, we let them go in the summer because they will return after two days or so to the well and you are not worried about them. In the winter you have to keep them together because they have babies. The camel is a good friend to the human, when you are alone in the desert you have no friends but there you learn how to be friends with him. They can smell their owners and know their smells, when there is something between you and the camel he will come to you and you can touch him easily and he will seat down easily. In the mating season the male will get angry and he will fight with the other males and even as the owner you cannot go near him. I like the calm camels, the angry ones I beat all the time.

A male camel is worth around 80,000 Dinars (700 euros), for a female 30 or 40,000 Dinars, there is more meat on the male. I am working with these camels for Ramadan, will we kill all of them for the Saharawi people to eat and celebrate the end of Ramadan. Not everybody can kill the camel but I can. I prefer to live in the countryside but when I had no camels I came here. I remember many good things from my childhood and I keep it with me all the time. The peace process is a good thing. My land is very beautiful but I am like the others; what will happen to them will happen to me. I am with the majority, if they chose war I am with them.