The Camel Whisperer | A former nomad embraces life in Nevada
MESQUITE (KSNV News3LV) —
A Nevada animal trainer who leads caravans of camels in the Mesquite desert has a unique personal story. He isn’t just another animal lover, he’s lived and breathed camels for his entire life.
He grew up with the massive creatures in North Africa, and now he’s showing people in Nevada why they’re so special.
News 3 spent the day with Sidi Amar Taoua at the new “Camel Safari”, a family attraction in Mesquite.
Even before he was able to enter the gate, the camels were calling to him. Taoua told us it was a certain “I want” sound that he understands well. Figuring out their needs is more of an instinct these days.
“Different personalities. Some of them are mellow, some of them don't like to be around people. But in general they are very, what do you call it, affectionate. They love attention,” said Taoua.
Just last week, “Camel Safari” celebrated its grand opening. The facility is a 176-acre compound where visitors can take a guided tour through the desert. Chances are, most guests will meet Taoua, a man with more than a passing interest in his two-toed charges.
“I am a nomad from the Sahara Desert,” he explained.
It’s a life he was literally born into.
“I was born in a camel caravan. My people, my tribe is called the Tuareg, they're the last nomadic people in the world. Their lifestyle is about camels,” he said.
Taoua left North Africa in 2002 to pursue his education in the United States. His people are sometimes referred to as “The Blue Men of the desert” because of a certain indigo veil worn by some of the men. After attending a camel conference in Texas, he eventually met Guy Seeklus, the owner of the new camel-friendly business.
“Compared to horses, camels are more affectionate, more intelligent and easier to train,” said Seeklus.
And that’s where Taoua comes in.
“I can fairly say that I can read their minds even though they aren't human like us. Sometimes you can read their mind, sometimes you can't. If someone tells you he knows everything, that's not correct because we grow to learn,” he said.
Taoua loves to teach others.
“Hump is fat. They store water in their tummy. So this is just fat. They use that fat when it's needed,” he explained to a crowd gathered around a pen.
There’s even a difference between the one-humped camels and those with two. On the day News 3 visited, he introduced us to J.P., a hybrid mix of both types. But despite a new job that he loves, Taoua may not stay in the Nevada desert. He says life with his nomadic tribe in the Sahara may be what he returns to in the future.
“It's a very sustainable way of living. There's no stress, you don't need to work for anyone. Your life is in your hand, you make it happen every day,” he explained.
As for the property where Camel Safari is just getting started, Taoua says the desert landscape and the weather remind him a bit of home.
“I love it. Actually, we designed it together before he bought the property. We came here and saw it, I think it's a fantastic place for camels,” he said.
He does get back home once a year. He says it’s time he uses to recharge with family and friends. And, as always, the camels are calling.
“I have a daughter who is 14. My plan is to be around her while she grows up and then it's good for me to go back home. To become a nomad again,” he said.