KORAMANGALA: Camels housed at the animal shelter run by Akhila Karnataka Prani Daya Sangha are wasting away.
Officials told City Express on Tuesday that of the five camels rescued from different parts of the city in October 2014, only three are alive. The camels were brought in for rehabilitation.
The shelter feels that the animals should be sent back to Rajasthan as they are not able to adapt to the environment here.
Devaraj, supervisor at the shelter, said, "Generally, large animals are rehabilitated in the five-acre shelter. Though camels are kept separately, the space is not enough and they suffer."
Sangha secretary Uttam Duggal said another camel collapsed while it was grazing. This is largely because there is not enough fodder to feed such a large animal. Water and weather conditions are making the situation worse, he said.
Officials feed these camels herbs and thorny leaves which are brought from 180 km away. Besides, the camels eat neem leaves, jaggery and corn leaves. However, this diet is not adequate, they said.
"The animals are sick and BBMP doctors have just visited the shelter once. Ironically, these doctors could not diagnose the ailment as there is no lab to test samples from these animals. The camels should be sent back to Rajasthan as the weather there is conducive to their well-being," Duggal said.
He said he has written to the Animal Husbandry Department seeking safe transport of the animals to their original habitat. "But I have not got any reply," Duggal said.
BBMP Animal Husbandry Department director Shivaram Bhat said transportation of such animals is the responsibility of the government.
However, owners of animal shelters in the city and activists say there are a lot of risks involved in transportation of large animals.
Achala Paani, founder of an NGO called Let's Live Together, says, "Bringing camels to any place with tar roads is unethical. They are usually brought to the cities to be used for joy rides and are slaughtered after their owners make enough money. The problem is that these camels are being rescued just before they are sent to slaughter houses. Most of them are weak and ill by then."
N G Jayasimha, Managing Director of Humane Society-India, who has been rescuing camels, says, "Taking care of large animals is always a challenge. The issue with camels is to find the right fodder, which is not available in South India as the climatic conditions are very different from Rajasthan. The camels are made to walk or transported in trucks from Rajasthan to Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Mumbai. They usually get injured and are not given proper medicines or food while travelling."
He says that the approximate cost to transport a camel back to Rajasthan is `60,000. "Apart from the cost, there are a lot of logistics problems while transporting large animals. First the rescue shelter has to obtain a certificate from a veterinarian stating that the animals are in good health. They should make sure the animals get enough breaks as they can not sit for long. They should also be give enough food, water and medical care."
He says, "Usually large animals are at a greater risk of contracting foot and mouth disease, which can spread to wildlife along the way, and prove fatal."
The Humane Society has urged Vasundhara Raje, Rajasthan chief minister, to stop transportation of camels out of Rajasthan. "The only solution is to make sure camels do not leave their habitat. They can't live in conditions with moisture," says Jayasimha.
City Express made several attempts to reach Animal Husbandry Secretary Harsh Gupta, but he did not respond.