In response to this being a popular post, I have added a more recent article from theguardian.com website, from just 3 months ago. Please keep reading…it seems that things haven’t changed in favor of the camels or the herders from 2018 to 2020. Will 2021 be different?
Here is an interesting breed of camel that is not found in Saudi, but India. I thought it of interest because these camels swim for miles, and I had no idea camels could swim! Read the article below and check out the video for more information about this unique camel, and the people who farm them. As they are threatened due to commercial industrial building in the area, my hope is that they continue with conservation efforts and protection.
Here are excerpts taken from the article at downtoearth.org, 6 Sept. 2018, Mahendra Bhanani. The link to the full article follows, as well as a video. Enjoy!
“Following Adambhai’s blowing of the whistle, several concerned groups, organisations, environmentalists, and citizens came together from around Kutch on February 24, 2018, at the site of destruction to protest against the salt-making industries and in support of the communities that are going to suffer due to the loss of the mangroves. Coverage of the protest in the media ensured a temporary halt in the destruction. However, it soon began again.
It was then that the KUUMS got into the act. It hired a law firm in Delhi. It then filed a plea against the rampant destruction of the mangroves in the National Green Tribunal (NGT). “Incessant destruction activities have severely diminished the cover of sparse mangroves found at the said site, as well as destroyed the habitat of the indigenous Kharai camels, in addition to disrupting livelihoods of villagers dependent on these mangroves”, it read. One should also remember that mangroves are important breeding grounds for various faunal species and provide habitats to millions of zoo- and phytoplankton, which in turn become food for fish and many birds.”
“For now, permanent damage to both, the mangroves and the Kharai camels has been prevented. But only for now. Camel milk has been recognised by FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) and AMUL for its immense therapeutic properties in degenerative diseases like autism, TB, diabetes and even some types of cancers; however, with the destruction of mangroves in Gujarat there are barely about 3,000 of these unique camels, that live in the mangroves, left in the country. The government of India has declared them “highly threatened” and has launched a massive conservation programme to increase Kharai numbers. However, along with the thousands of species that live in the mangroves, the Kharai too will perish without them.”
Added today, this newer article from theguardian.com website, 3 Oct. 2020, “High and dry: will India’s swimming camels be the last of their kind?” Here’s an excerpt, and full article link after.
“Amin Jat’s semi-nomadic ancestors have kept these camels in the Indian state of Gujarat for hundreds of years. Known as kharai camels, their name is derived from the local word khara, meaning saline. During the rainy season, they swim along the Gulf of Kutch, an inlet of the Arabian Sea, to small forest islands and graze on mangroves and other saline-loving plants.
Their gently padded hooves help them navigate the wet and salty coastal land with ease and they can swim up to three kilometres (1.8 miles). Immediately after grazing, they drink the rainwater collected in the depressions of the islands. When there isn’t enough water, the herders take them to neighbouring villages to feed them.
But kharai camels are disappearing. Although exact numbers are hard to find – kharai camels were only recognised as a separate breed in 2015 – local nonprofit Sahjeevan estimates that there were more than 10,000 in Gujarat about a decade ago. Now there are fewer than 4,500. Rapid industrialisation in the mangrove swamps and erratic rainfall are destroying the habitat kharai camels rely on for food, and pushing this unique breed to extinction, warn conservationists.
“My ancestors gave me these camels,” says Amin Jat, 53. “They are like my kids. How can I see them die in front of my eyes?”’
One Reply to “Kharai Camels of Kutch, India–they can swim!”
I trust the unparalleled adaptability capabilities of camels to overcome their current feat in India. They are a beast of nature and along with their passionate herders, they will find ways survive. They will probably outlive humans in the end.