Faced with a declining number of camels in Rajasthan, the state government has announced a 'Camel Protection and Development Policy' in its budget 2022-23. Camel is the state animal of Rajasthan and their number is continuously decreasing.
The demand for camel protection in the state has been rising for a long time. Considering this, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot proposed a budget of Rs 10 crore in the next financial year under the new policy for rearing, protection, and overall development of the state animal. According to the government figures, there are now less than two lakh camels left in the state, while the number of camels in the entire country has reduced by 1.5 lakh since 2012.
There were about 2.5 lakh camels left when counted last in 2019. According to the data released by the centre in the Parliament in December, there were 4 lakh camels across India in the 2012 livestock census, and by the 2019 census their number had dwindled to 2.52 lakh.
According to the 2019 animal census, the number of camels in Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Meghalaya and Nagaland officially fell to zero, while in 2012, these states had 45, 03, 07 and 92 camels respectively. About 85 per cent of the country's camels are found in Rajasthan followed by Gujarat, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh. According to the information given in the Parliament, the number of camels in Rajasthan in 2012 was 3,25,713, which had reduced to 2,12,739 in 2019.
Livestock farmers and NGOs have welcomed the policy, but demanded changes in law related to camels. Hanwant Singh Rathore, director of Lokhit Pashupalak Sansthan, praised the policy but said it has to be seen how much and how it is implemented at the ground level. Dr Ilse Kohler-Rollefson, a German scholar working for camel conservation in Pali district for the past several decades, told PTI that the current legislation of the state government was the biggest factor responsible for the declining number of camels.
She said due to the law entire camel market was destroyed and people turned away from camel rearing. Kohler-Rollefson said an amendment in the law is necessary to encourage camel conservation and camel farmers. The Rajasthan government had declared camel as the state animal in the year 2014. The very next year it came up with the Rajasthan Camel (Prohibition of Slaughter and Prohibition of Temporary Migration or Export Regulations) Act to stop its slaughter and prohibit its temporary migration out of the state.
Cattle farmers say that due to the law, camel rearing in the state reduced and led to a decline in their population. Rathore said that the law implemented in the state proved to be a loss-making deal for the camel farmers. The ban on taking camels out without permission, as well as many more restrictions, discouraged the cattle rearers, he said. A camel which was earlier sold for 10,000 to 70,000 rupees, now brought only 3,000 to 8,000 rupees, he said. The state government, earlier in response to a question in Rajasthan Assembly, had said the reason behind decline in camels’ number in past 30 years was the continuous development of mechanical resources and better transport facility in villages.
With PTI Inputs