Little Food, No Help: Why Rajasthan’s Camel Breeders Are in Crisis

Little Food, No Help: Why Rajasthan’s Camel Breeders Are in Crisis

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Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas

Why are Rajasthan’s ethnic camel breeders staring at an uncertain future even as the Vasundhara Raje government declared camel its “state animal” in 2016?

As a part of The Quint's election coverage, we reached the Sam desert in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, to learn what a day in the lives of a camel breeder entails.

Camels, known as the ‘ship of the desert’, were one of the main sources of income in the Jaislamer region of Rajasthan, earlier used for long-distance travel, for cultivation and milk. Now, camels are primarily used for tourist attraction in the desert areas of the state.

“The tourist season spans across six months, from October to March. After that, either the camel rider is sitting at home or doing cultivation if there is enough rain, or working as a labour. There is no other occupation here.”
Md Ali Khan, Camel Breeder

Khan also said that since this time there was no rain, CM Vasundhara Raje had promised to send food for the camels, but nothing came.

Another young camel herder, Sumer Khan, who has been in the business for the last two to three years, says, “Poor herders cannot feed the animals after the tourist season ends. While some people manage to keep them in their homes, others let them off in the desert to fend for themselves.”

The breeders say that after the BJP government declared camels as the “state animal”, prohibiting them to go out of the state and sale for slaughter, their demand has seen a sharp decline, causing loss in trade.

“Earlier, people from abroad used to come and buy camels. Now they don’t come. There is no business.”
Allah Baksh, Camel Breeder

Allah Baksh says the government can save them from a crisis if they provide some loans for camel rearing.

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