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Why camels are giving Pushkar fair a miss

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Why Pushkar Mela is losing its charm
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Why Pushkar Mela is losing its charm

One of the world’s largest animal fairs got underway on Monday in Pushkar, Rajasthan. The fair, which will go on till November 12, has been attracting more tourists but is slowly losing charm as a cattle fair as the number of animals turning up at the event has fallen sharply in the last couple of years. Ironically, it is their status as state animal that is partly seen as a reason for this. A look:

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Rajasthan has passed laws to protect camels
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Rajasthan has passed laws to protect camels

A reason for the decline in trade of camels could be its status as Rajasthan’s state animal. In 2014, that status came with a lot of protocols as the state government went on to pass a law banning the slaughter, trade and unauthorised transportation of camels. The animals are not allowed to be sold outside the state, except for agricultural purposes. This has affected business and sales have declined. Though the state launched a scheme in 2016 to pay Rs 10,000 to a camel farmer for each calf born, it has now been discontinued.

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Camel numbers have been falling
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Camel numbers have been falling

There has been a decline in the overall camel population as the utility of the animals as beasts of burden has reduced. In 1991, India had the 7th largest camel population in the world with more than 10 lakh of them. But it is now ranked outside the top 20 with just 2.5 lakh camels left. (Graph: BCCL)

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The decline in camel trade
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The decline in camel trade

In 4 yrs, number of animals sold at Pushkar fair has dropped by 75%

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Tourist numbers have kept rising
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Tourist numbers have kept rising

Thanks to an emphasis on cultural, sports and fun activities curated every year for improving the quality of experience at the fair, the number foreign visitors to the nine-day event has been increasing over the years Domestic tourist footfall at the fair has been between 4-4.5 lakh in the last five years while foreign tourist numbers have gone from 7,500 in 2012 to 12,800 in 2018.

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When does the event happen?
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When does the event happen?

Rajasthan's regal opulence is reflected in the pomp of Pushkar Mela, an annual multi-day livestock fair and cultural fair, which is hosted every year on the full moon day of Kartik and lasts for a week.
Source: Rajsthan animal husbandry department, media reports, livestock census 2019; Graphic: Karthic R Iyer

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