Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Stop that camel!

The Indian journal of veterinary science and animal husbandry contains hundreds of articles covering a range of subjects such as parasites, tapeworms, animal diseases, nutritional values of animal feed, milk and wool yields, even foetal monstrosities. Following on from Jan's post on cannabis, today I found that camels were used to smuggle opium and charas (handmade hashish formed into balls or sticks).
The article in volume 11 is from 1941 and states: "The Sinai Police are an exceptionally subtle body of men and can almost smell narcotics through a brick wall and eventually nine camels were put under suspicion at Kantara and three others were soon in the lock-up at El Arish."
The drugs were smuggled in the camels' stomachs: "The strange ability of the camel [is] to swallow 25 heavy containers 15 x 4 cm. and to be able to travel and work with little inconvenience to himself."
The inconvenience came when 'guilty' camels were slaughtered and the drugs seized from their first stomachs. Lead was used by the smugglers to prevent the drugs from travelling any further through the animals' systems.
With over 30,000 camels passing annually from the East into Egypt, the authorities proposed using an x-ray's "searching beam" to detect drugs. "An interesting case of the use of science in the perpetration of crime as well as in its detection!" concludes E.S. Farbrother, the Director of Veterinary Services in Bombay.
(Camel photo credit:

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Batholomew Archive - now blogging

Our colleagues in the Map Library now have a blog with regular posts about the Bartholomew Archive. As the site explains, the Archive is the remarkable record of the Edinburgh-based firm of map engravers, printers and publishers, John Bartholomew & Son Ltd. It is one of the most extensive cartographic archives available for research in a public institution.