While the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the global economy, it seems to have given a new lease of life to the steadily declining camel population and consequently, the economy of Rajasthan. Owing to the social distancing norm of this pandemic, regular vehicles are not the preferred mode of transportation anymore in the state. Thereby, camels have become the choice of transportation for moving large groups, such as grooms and their families to the villages of the brides for ceremonies.
Camels to the rescue!
Camels have also emerged as a saviour for school children belonging to the remote areas of Rajasthan. While roads and internet connectivity may still be a luxury for such students, their education is not being hampered as these animals are carrying study material and stationery to students in far-flung areas.
Decline registered in Rajasthan's camel population
However, these ships of the desert are in dire need of help as their population has been registering a decline for the past few years. As per the Rajasthan government's 20th livestock census, the number of camels in the state has dropped from 3,25,713 in 2012 to 2,12,739 in 2019. This situation is magnified when considering that this state has the highest population of camels in India.
Data suggests that till 1991, the country had more than a million camels and their present population is a quarter of this number. Hence, the survival prospects of these animals hang under a big question mark. Reports quote that many villages near Bikaner have zero camels, where there used to be 500 a few years ago.
Pandemic reviving the camel population
Reasons for this decline has been distilled to the fact that residents see no profit in keeping these animals around, with the introduction of newer transport modes. Cars and jeeps are more efficient as far as time and the number of individuals they can carry, is concerned. However, with the pandemic in effect, camels have become the chosen mode of travelling, once again.
Taking back Rajasthan to its age-old traditions, the wedding parties even doll up these animals with nose pins, ghungroos, mirror-fitted garments and other ostentatious decorations. This has prompted the idea of making this animal a permanent feature of wedding celebrations, like the wedding festivities of erstwhile royals. Other than giving a boost to the tourism industry of this state, this new trend will also help in reviving the camel population.
In this regard, Chaturbhuj Singh of Rajputana Cabs was noted saying- "In the coming days, this theme will be much in demand. As the state opens up completely, our foreign guests would love to tie the knot with a wedding procession on the lines of a 'Lawazma'. European tourists, anyway, are in love with the ship of the desert."
-With inputs from IANS