Camel breeders in the state are losing interest in rearing the animal as they are facing several problems after the enforcement of the Rajasthan Camel (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Bill, 2015.
In the bill, in which camel has been declared as the state animal, many clauses have been added for the protection of the animal but it is creating hurdles for illiterate breeders. One such issue is that during droughts, breeders are not being able to take camels to neighbouring states as the bill says that they have to take permission from the authorities concerned before moving the animals. After returning, too, they have to visit the authorities and show that they have brought back the same number of camels they had taken.
“The camel breeders are illiterate and hence they face problems. The sale of camels at fairs too has gone down as those who buy camels will have to complete paperwork before taking the animals out of the state. So many avoid buying them,” said Hanwant Singh, director of Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan (LPPS), an NGO working for camel breeders and camels.
“There is demand for male camels in Punjab and Haryana, as the animals are used for ploughing fields. But they are avoiding buying camels due to the paperwork involved,” said Singh.
Singh said that though the government is taking steps to encourage camel breeders a little more effort is needed. The recent Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has given its approval to camel milk. The government must take interest in setting up camel milk dairies to promote its medicinal benefits. He even said that Amul is going to market camel milk from March this year and Gujarat has only 18,000 camels, while the number is much more in Rajasthan. The government should take advantage of this, suggested Singh.
Singh also pointed out the skewed sex ratio among camels. A low female camel population is creating issues. Earlier, one male camel was enough for a herd of 50 female camels, but now there are 18 male camels in a herd of 50 female camels. The breeding season is on and with the decline in female camels, male camels in heat get violent and attack people.
“People often buy female camels for slaughtering as they are cheaper than the males. This has also led to a decline in the female camel population,” Singh informed.
According to the 19th Livestock Census of 2012, the camel population in India was 4 lakh. In Rajasthan, it was more than 3.25 lakh, but Singh said that now the number has declined to around 2 lakh.
While talking about the issue, agriculture and animal husbandry minister Prabhu Lal Saini said, “If camel breeders have any problems, they can tell us and we will look into their problems.”