With increasing mechanisation and synthetic fertiliser usage, the camel is no longer needed for transportation, ploughing and manure
Rajasthan's most iconic animal, the camel, is slowly fading away from the desert state. If the 20th Livestock Census is to be believed, the camel population in the state has dipped by 71 per cent since the 1990s. The latest census indicates 213,000 camels in the state, down from 746,000 in 1992.
About 85 per cent of India's camel population survives in Rajasthan. The other major states with a sizeable camel population include Gujarat, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. In these states too, the prospects for the camel looks bleak. Since the last census in 2011, Gujarat lost 2,000 camels and has a population of 28,000 now. Haryana lost 72.65 per cent of its camels in the last seven years and now has only 5,000 left. Uttar Pradesh has only 2,000 — a decline close to 70 per cent since 2011.
Overall, the camel population in India dipped by almost 37 per cent since 2011 and 75 per cent since 1992. There are several factors responsible for this decline. The camel was an important draught animal in these states, but slowly, mechanisation overtook it. Close to 217,000 km of roads have been added to Rajasthan since independence, which has resulted in automobiles taking over camels in transportation. Tractor sales increased by over 400 per cent since 2000, supplanting it for ploughing; and, farmers now prefer synthetic fertilisers over camel manure.
Another factor for the decline has been a lack of pastures and grazing land for these animals. But the biggest reason has been because of policy failure. Rajasthan declared camels to be state animals in 2014 and also enacted the Rajasthan Camel (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act. This act banned selling or transporting of these camels outside the state. This has left the animal without a market outside the state.
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