This is a continuation from the first post: “Beware of camel scams at the Pyramids of Giza! (Part 1)“. If Part 1 had not sufficiently convinced you to do away with a camel ride at the Pyramids, I hope Part 2 on the ill treatment of camels at the Pyramids will be successful.
To recollect, we were being scammed by a camel-driver, who told us a price for riding the camel, and when we got on, told us that it was the price for one person, essentially doubling the price.
Subsequently, he sent another camel our way, saying that the weight of both of us was too heavy and asked that my friend take the other camel. Naturally we declined, but for the point to get through, it had to be done via a shouting match.
Now once that was done, the camel-driver started being very nice to us. ‘Where are you from? What is your name? etc. ” Which was really quite annoying given the ordeal he had put us through.
I can’t really recall the conversation, or the curt replies we made, only the feeling that I was about to fall off the camel any time.
Now we were halfway through the ‘tour’ and we arrived at the spot where a photo opportunity of the three pyramids was possible.
We took the photos, as most tourists would. I also gaped at the dirty desert. In pictures, the desert looked like it was covered in smooth sand. Here, there were plastic bottles and tissue paper on the ground, which is really quite sad if you think about it.
Now the camel stopped and gave a groan. Like it was refusing to go further. Perhaps it was tired, perhaps that our combined weights were too heavy. I wasn’t sure. Poor camel.
The camel-driver comes up to it and starts pressing a certain part of its neck. ‘Oh dear’, I was thinking in my head, ‘what is he doing?’. This happened again after the camel had walked another 100m. The camel-driver went up and pressed its neck again. The camel let up a loud moan, then, as it resigned itself to fate, continued the walk towards the Sphinx.
Along the way, we passed by a group of youngish Egyptians guys on horses, and one of them was whipping the horse really hard. Gosh, I was thinking in my head. This isn’t right.
Now I had a hypothesis – the camel’s neck had a raw scar, and for the camel to do the driver’s bidding without kicking up a big fuss, all the camel-driver had to do was to press into its raw scar, hence the moan from the camel.
After disembarking from the poor animal, I looked around at all the other camels which passed my way, and realised that these camels had scars on their necks too. Some of them had multiple scars, which had faded into a blackish grey. It’s kind of sad because they are decked out in all these colourful decorations around their heads and necks. But I realised that apart from making this camels look a little more exotic and Arabic, these decorations were a means to hide the camels’ weariness, sunken eyes and wounded necks.
The horror of discovering that we had just spent €400/SGD80 on a scammy camel ride that actually contributed to the abuse of the camels was perhaps, one of the saddest highlights of the trip.
I did a bit on reading about ways to tame camels, and giving camels a scar is no part of the methodology. According to website Camelphotos.com, camels can trained through the provision of food treats, or via the nosepiece. In particular, the article says that ‘camels have a poor tolerance for rough treatment if it is inappropriate or unfair’.
During one of our last days in Jerusalem, Israel, we came across camel rides offered in a parking lot. For just five minutes, you get to sit on a camel as it trotted around the parking lot. It was actually just what I needed.
A short camel ride in a parking lot, on a healthy camel.