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Double-hump camel population dwindles in Ladakh

Deskit(J&K): In this nondescript, small town of Jammu and Kashmir, Yuvraj, Yusuf and Harbhajan are on the verge of extinction!

Double-hump camels, usually named after cricket stars, are exclusively found in this region of Ladakh and act as a major attraction for both domestic and international tourists, who come here to take a ride on them.

“We get at least 50 visitors everyday. The number increases in the peak season. But there is a shortage of basic amenities both for visitors and camels. Already some of them have died due to lack of care and shortage of fodder,” said Rigzen, who owns five camels and runs a safari at a farm here for tourists.

He sought to blame the State government for not doing enough for the welfare of farm owners and the unique animals found in Deskit and Hunder areas in the Nubra valley.

According to the farm owners, there are approximately 150 camels with two humps in the Ladakh region but most of them live in wild.

“There are only 37 camels left in the farm, out of 50 we had a year ago. About 13 have died due to different reasons. There is an urgent need to do something for their protection,” said Mohammed Shafi, another camel owner.

“Just to ensure that sufficient tourists come, we raise money to attract them. We have named our camels after cricket stars Yuvraj, Yusuf and Harbhajan in a bid to invite some more visitors,” he said.

Farm owners have demanded that the government make shelters for their animals and give financial assistance to help them in their business. “This camel safari is our only business. We need help from State administration in many ways. Nobody hears our complaints and demands,” an upset Shafi said.

A 15-minute ride on the camel here costs around Rs. 200.

“I have heard a lot about it. It was really nice to ride on them. I enjoyed a lot,” said Sakshi, who had come from Vadodara.

When asked, Leh Deputy Commissioner Tsering Angchok said, “We are doing a lot to improve tourism and infrastructure in the region. Soon things will be alright. Already we have got good increase in footfalls of tourists. We expect more visitors during the year.”

Over 257 people had died and 1,400 households were damaged in a cloudburst that occurred in Leh on the intervening night of August 5-6 last year. Authorities are working hard to revamp the town and the neighbouring areas.

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