The Kharai camels of Kutch, Gujarat, are the only camels in the world that swim. Their name is derived from the word khara, meaning ‘saline’. They can survive on both dry land and in the sea, making it an ecotonal breed. During the rainy season, they swim upto 3 kms along the Gulf of Kutch grazing on mangroves and other saline loving plants. Because of the salt content in the plants, the camels need to drink water immediately after grazing. Locals believe that the milk of kharai camels is beneficial in the treatment of tuberculosis, diabetes and cancer. There were more than 10,000 kharai camels in Gujarat about a decade ago, but now there are fewer than 4,500. Rapid industrialisation in the mangrove swamps and erratic rainfall are destroying the habitat they rely on for food, pushing this unique breed to extinction. In 2015, the kharai camels were declared as endangered by the Indian government. After the major earthquake of Gujarat, the mining, cement, and windmill industries, among others, intensified their operations in a bid to rebuild Kutch. This disturbed the ecosystem wherein Kharai camels were thriving. Their routes changed and food intake decreased considerably. To save the Kharai camels, we must save their natural habitat. Since it is clear that they can only survive on mangroves, preserving their ecosystem is the need of the hour. Fortunately, the large-scale benefits of mangrove are being understood and the government is taking significant steps to conserve them. Several mangrove forests in the area have been designated as protected areas, where they are undergoing special care to continue sustained growth.

Credit : Financial express

Picture Credit : Google 

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