Ship of desert in danger: Camels count came down in Barmer

Illegal trade of camels for butchering is increasingly becoming a cause of concern in Rajasthan. The meat of the animal is considered to be a novelty and thus, smuggling of the state animal of is continuing unabated.

Animal activists have been expressing concern for the depleting camel population due to smuggling for slaughter. They claim that the population that was close to eight lakhs has now come down to mere two lakh. This despite the animal having been given status of state animal in 2016.

The matter came into focus when a truckload of camels being smuggled from Barmer was seized. Police is investigating about the presence of an organised smuggling network.

According to Barmer SP Manish Agarwal, “We are continuously watching and investigating the matter. We have caught camels after a spell, it has been happening before also. We are checking on the quantum and frequency of the trade.”

Activists, however, claim the presence of a well established smuggling pattern and route, “Scouting and sale of animals takes place at cattle fairs. Camels are procured from Barmer, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Churu and Nagaur. The animals are smuggled across the state borders by road through Alwar and Bharatpur districts, very much like the cattle route. They are taken to slaughter houses in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and also sent to Gulf countries,” said Babu Lal Jaju, state chief, People For Animals.

“Smugglers from Haryana and UP have local touts. They purchase camels from poor farmers of Western districts at throwaway prices. Some resort to stealing camels. It is a well organised network that is flourishing due to inadequate policing,” said Om Vishnoi of Vishnoi Tiger Force.

“Camel owners are given subsidy for camel breeding through National Research Centre on Camel in Bikaner, but there is no way to keep account of their numbers,” added Jaju.

To protect the animal, camel was declared state animal of Rajasthan in 2016, and Rajasthan Camel (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act, 2015 was implemented.
It has provision of seven years in jail for slaughtering a camel and three years for smuggling it across state borders.

Earlier too camels have been seized in Barmer, Hanumangarh, Churu and Bikaner.
Camels are procured from Pushkar, Alwar, Dhaulpur, Shahpura, Sadulpur, Churu, Barmer, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur.

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