THE Marwar Camel Culture Festival (6-8 Nov) is being organized by Lokhit Pashu Palak Sansthan (LPPS) an NGO that has worked with camel breeders since 1996. The Festival aims to mobilize and bring together camel breeders and artists, host decision makers, and run an information campaign about how to save the camels and create sustainable rural livelihoods. This one of a kind event will also celebrate Rajasthan's camel heritage, showcase camel products and services. The event will be held at the edge of the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary and in the core area of the Godwar Raika belt, it will bring together:
- The Raika and other camel breeders from all over Rajasthan
- Artisans and craftspeople traditionally using camel raw materials or motives
- People from all over India and abroad interested in culture and animals
- Social entrepreneurs, philanthropists & investors willing to support camel related ventures
The camels are Rajasthan’s signatory animals, its former source of identity and pride, as well as the foundation for the globally unique camel culture of the Raika who once took care of the breeding herds owned by the Maharajas. In the last decades, a decline in demand for draught camels and a number of other factors have severely reduced the camel population from more than 10 lakhs to just over 3 lakh presently. In an effort to stop this trend, the cabinet of Rajasthan in 2014 declared the camel as state animal and developed a draft legislation to protect it. However, on the flip side, these restrictions prevent people from earning a livelihood from camels and lead them to neglect and dispose of their herds. This would mean a great loss, as the camel has potential to provide a range of eco-friendly ‘desert products’ that could on one hand generate income for rural people and on the other hand satisfy urban consumers’ needs.
‘To halt the dwindling of Rajasthan’s camel numbers, the government declared it state animal. But we can not save this iconic animal without the help of its guardians: the traditional camel cultures that have kept camels for centuries and understand them and their needs’, says German scientist & author of the book ‘Camel Karma- Twenty Years among India’s Camel Nomads,’ Ilse Koehler-Rollefson.
Ilse believes that this is where the Corporates can play a major role by planning & implementing a sustainable CSR initiative that will save the camels and restore the dignity and livelihood of the camel rearing Rebari & Raika communities in Rajasthan. Further expertise, investment in infrastructure and training/ human capacity building, as well as targeted research are required bring any of the value chains up to scale and make a real impact on the camel population and on rural livelihoods. And The Marwar Camel Culture Festival (6-8 Nov) could well be a meeting point between the Corporate world and this unique initiative with tremendous potential for good.
Festival guests also will get a chance to learn about Camels including understanding the language of camels and how to communicate with them with the help of experts. The adventurous could also try their hand at making camel poo paper.
“Saving the camel is not a matter of putting it into zoos or on rescue stations. Instead we must make it part of the landscape and of our lives”, says Ilse. Know more about the Festival and connect with the organizers on their Facebook Page.
Also read: CSR, Say Cheese!