In India camels are native to Rajasthan and Gujarat; their physiology is suited to a dry desert climate (hot day, cool night) because they can go for long periods without drinking water and their padded feet are suited to soft desert sands.
Camels that are taken out of the desert find it difficult to walk long distances and adjust to humid climatic conditions. During the monsoon, most of them get contagious diseases such as anthrax and suffer and die, often without the required medical treatment. Also, outside Rajasthan and Gujarat, they do not get their ideal diet of desert shrubs and plants as a result of which they do not keep good health.
BWC has therefore written more than once to both the Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Gujarat pleading that they ban the export of camels from their states. The Rajasthan government eventually responded a few months before July 2014 when state heritage status was accorded to the camel – BWC received a letter from the government saying they were considering it and that they planned on passing legislation to effectively check smuggling and slaughter of camels out of the state. BWC reiterated its stand and strongly suggested that the proposed law should not only stop camels being subjected to physical cruelty (e.g. use of nose-pegs, and over-loading) and commercial exploitation (e.g. entertainment, camel racing, and safaris) within the state, but a ban on them leaving Rajasthan should be enforced as soon as possible.
Races involving animals such as camels, donkeys, elephants and buffaloes are organised as a kind of novelty or attraction at a fair or some other function without showing any consideration whatsoever for the poor animals involved. The worst of these is possibly the camel races at the annual Pushkar Fair, near Ajmer, again in Rajasthan, where as many as a dozen persons sit atop a single bedecked camel, made to race other camels.
All over the country camels, elephants and horses traditionally feature in festivals, religious functions and wedding processions. They are also made to perform and/or exhibited in circuses and occasionally ‘welcome’ foreigners at particular venues for which they are covered in typical Rajasthani finery. In 2012 a premium concierge service, upon receiving a request from a senior company executive, sent an elephant to the airport to welcome his India-bound global CEO.
Camels, ponies, and elephants are used for “joy-rides” too, particularly in hill stations and tourist resorts, on beaches and in city-parks. The conditions under which these animals are kept are often pathetic. It is not uncommon for them to be loaded with the maximum number of adults and children they can physically hold. Naturally, some riders get thrown off. Both Indian and foreign tourists are responsible for patronising such “joy-rides”.
Camels are put under great stress: made to give “joy-rides” to many adults and children, and are frequently taken in processions where loud crackers are burst and there is a lot of commotion. When exhausted, they collapse and cry out in pain, but are forcefully pulled forward with ropes strung through the metal rings in their nostrils.
In 1996 Beauty Without Cruelty played a leading role in obtaining a High Court ruling to stop the entry of camels into Mumbai, and to rehabilitate the existing ones back in the Rajasthan desert so that the “joy-rides” on Juhu beach became history.
In states other than Rajasthan, a considerable number of camels are seen on the roads. They are made to give rides to kids and adults and participate in processions. Some are utilised for carrying advertisement banners on their sides and made to walk long distances and in crowded areas. Camel rides are also promoted at resorts such as Choki Dhani.
Few people realise the cruelty involved. First and foremost, the poor animals have been walked all the way to far off destinations covering thousands of miles. The people who exploit them consider the animals to be replaceable commodities. A group of people with about 6-10 camels usually settle down illegally next to a local market yard so that free vegetable waste is accessible. Camels are desert animals and they are unable to adjust to different climatic conditions, especially humidity. This leads to them falling ill frequently and succumbing to diseases such as anthrax. Sick camels have been abandoned to die on highways to avoid medical expenses.
It was heartening that in 2009 the Pune Police banned the use of camels (horses and elephants) taking part in processions. The restriction came about because of increasing cases of injury and human death due to the chaos that is created by traffic and bursting of crackers on roads. But, unfortunately, the ban in practice was short lived, and that too with frequent exceptions.
BWC is persistently demanding a ban, and has brought to the notice of the Police the illegal entry and use of camels in Pune. As per the provisions of the Acts and laws mentioned below which are binding on the Pune Police, camels should be banned from Pune:
* The Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations) Brihan Mumbai has issued a notification under the clause (b) of sub section (1) of section 33 read with sub section (2) of section 10 of the Bombay Police Act 1951, inter alia gives the following directions:
(1) No person shall bring into any urban area or park thereof the city of Mumbai from any place outside such area or part thereof, for the purpose of joy rides and/or entertainment and/or any other commercial purpose.
(2) No person shall bring into any urban area or any part thereof including public places in the city of Mumbai, any camel from any place outside such area or part thereof, for the purpose of joy rides as they result in danger/obstruction / inconvenience to the public.
(3) No person shall use in the area of Brihan Mumbai from the date of this notification any “CAMEL” for the purpose of joy rides and/or entertainment and/or any other commercial purpose.
* Under the provisions of Bombay Police Act, 1951 Chapter VI Section 74 to 78, the Police are empowered to take action under the Act LIX of 1960.
* The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, Chapter III Section 11.
More than once BWC visited the site where at least 25 camels are kept in deplorable open-to-sky conditions at Pune and informed not only the Police Commissioner, but also wrote to the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra in June 2011 urging him to direct an immediate ban because of the onset of the monsoon. It was also pointed out that camels brought from the desert regions to hill-stations of Lonavla and Khandala also suffered greatly due to unsuitable climatic and other conditions.
BWC’s continuous efforts over years to stop camels entering Pune have unfortunately failed, but we won’t give up. The saving grace is that in response to frequent requests made to the Pune Police by the Sarva Jeev Mangal Pratishthan and Beauty Without Cruelty, they began issuing orders banning the use of animals (camels, elephants, horses, ponies and cattle) in processions and rallies. The first such order was passed for Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti celebrated on 19 March 2014.
Say “no” to joy rides on animals – particularly on camels.
For detailed information on Camels please read