Rajasthan Chief Minister commits to camels
11 January 2008 was the first death anniversary of Bhopala Ram Raika, a famous leader of the Raika camel pastoralists of Rajasthan. Thousands of Raika gathered to mark the event, with Vasundhra Raje, Chief Minister of Rajasthan, as guest of honour.
Ilse Koehler-Rollefson of the League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development, and Hanwant Singh, director of Rajasthan NGO Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan, also attended.
Ilse was invited to give a speech to the political dignitaries and a crowd of Raika estimated at 5000-7000 people. She recalled that Bhopala Ram Raika had introduced her to the Raika community in 1992, laying the foundation of LPP’s and LPPS’s work in Rajasthan. LPP later invited him to an international meeting in Tanzania and a tour of a camel farm and dairy in Kenya.
Hanwant and Ilse had the opportunity to meet the chief minister and brief her about the needs of camel pastoralists in the state.
During her speech, the Chief Minister held up a copy of a Drynet newsletter with an article about a visit by a Raika delegation to Switzerland and Spain. Their visit had been arranged by LPP and LPPS as part of efforts to promote the rights of livestock keepers. The newsletter is part of LPPS’s contribution to the European Union-funded Drynet project, a worldwide initiative to combat land degradation.
“This is how far the Raika can go”, she said, promising support for camels, which are iconic animals in Rajasthan.
The following day, the Rajasthan Patrika newspaper carried a special article in Hindi about the state government’s commitment to save the camel.
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