This is a question I’ve thought about several times, including on the occasion several years ago where I did ride a camel through the Sahara desert.
I’m going to make this a short post, because I’d love to hear from you guys what your thoughts are on the issue.
Well my current views are, I agree with riding horses, because on the most part, I feel they are trained in a welfare friendly manner to accept a human passenger.
I disagree with riding elephants, because on the most part, I feel they are not trained in a welfare friendly manner, to accept passengers.
So I suppose my first stumbling block is not having a clue how a camel is trained to be ridden. A quick google and the process appears rather similar to breaking in a horse, so on the face of it the training seems fine.
Have a look for yourself here:
I suppose my next issue has to come down to equipment. I felt when I rode a camel that some of the halters were too tight and made of harsh material that could easily cut into the animals face, and that the saddles, large metal frames with multiple blankets, luggage and overweight tourists strapped to them, looked uncomfortable.
The surprising thing is camels can carry at least 200kg, as the humped nature of their back allows better weight distribution, allowing them to carry more weight than a horse of similar size.
Equipment is however, a very subjective and case specific issue. I doubt every camel being ridden is doing so in poor equipment, but it is one of those things I would advise you looked at yourself before deciding whether to ride that camel.
So in conclusion? Yes, I do think it is ethical to ride a camel, so long as you look at the situation in front of you, much like with riding horses – if the animal looks in good condition and is comfortable, in well fitted equipment then there is no issue. If on the other hand, something doesn’t feel right, the saddle digs in, there are sores around its muzzle from a poorly fitted halter etc., then this probably isn’t the animal you want to be riding, or the agent you want to be giving your money to.
So that’s my views, what do you guys think?