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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 October 2005, 17:38 GMT 18:38 UK
Tourists blamed for camel death
By Narayan Bareth
BBC News, Jaipur in Rajasthan

Rajasthan has almost a million single humped camels
Indian animal rights activists have expressed anger after foreign tourists' took four rare camels from the northern Ladakh region to Rajasthan.

The attempt is said to have gone badly wrong - one of the four camels has died and another is seriously ill.

The group bought the camels in Ladakh in the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir and transported them by trucks to Churu, in north Rajasthan.

From there, the animals started a foot journey to Bikaner on 24 September.

After the camels had travelled about 250 kilometres, they started to fall ill.

'Not indigenous'

The leader of the foreign tourists, Jerome Lanez of France, told the BBC that they decided to bring these animals to Rajasthan after they visited India's biggest annual camel fair in the town of Pushkar last year.

"We were told it was impossible to introduce the Ladakhi camels in Rajasthan. So we took it up as a challenge," he said.

But animal rights activists are not amused.

Ladakhi camels are already very few in numbers, and it's not advisable to bring these animals to a hostile climate
Dr T K Gehlot, senior specialist, veterinary college of Bikaner

Describing the attempt to bring the camels to Rajasthan as "absurd", they say "it deserves to be condemned in the strongest terms".

The double humped camel, found in large numbers in Mongolia and China, is a rarity in India. Only about a 100 of them are found in Ladakh.

These animals are not indigenous to India and were abandoned here at least a century ago by traders from Central Asia travelling on the Silk Route.

Not protected

Animal rights activists Raghu Chindawat, who has researched the Ladakhi camel, says the animals are born and raised in very high altitude and are used to living in very cold weather.

There is no way they will survive in the hot desert of Rajasthan, he says.

The animal is not protected under the wildlife act and it is not illegal to buy or sell them in India.

Dr TK Gehlot, a senior specialist with the government veterinary college of Bikaner, says the animal died because the hot climate and the local fodder did not suit them.

"Ladakhi camels are already very few in numbers, and it's not advisable to bring these animals to a hostile climate," he says.

Rajasthan has almost a million camels but all of them are single humped.

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