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What animal might you think of, if someone were to ask you to name an animal that lives in the desert? Would it be the camel? If so, that’s not surprising. Of all the animals that live in the desert, camels probably are the most famous and for good reason! Camels are known as the "ships of the desert." These huge mammals are one of God’s most intriguing creations.

Here in Bikaner, camels can be seen everywhere carrying people, transporting goods, pulling carts, ploughing fields, plodding patiently through trackless sands or sitting still in camps after a hard day under the blistering sun. They can easily glide across desert sands with ease and provide one of the most important modes of transportation for people in desert areas. But they can maintain the slow and steady speed for longer periods of time over great distances and can carry extremely heavy loads in the process. These animals can survive a very long time without any food or water something that makes the animal perfect for the dry, hardy life out here in the harsh Thar Desert. Camels are important in Rajasthan's daily life for milk, meat and hides as well. And at most festivals, fairs and weddings, people pay tribute to their importance by decking out their camels in colorful ornamental harness and accutrement, silver chains, silk tassels, etc. This tradition of celebratiing the camel still plays an integral role in the lives of many families in this part of Rajashthan. This animal is most admired among all the animal species and inseparable from Rajasthanis' daily life, and is considered the pride of the place.

Interestingly camels also have been used in Bikaner's Military history since 1465 when the Bikaner Camel Corps was founded. The BCC served in both World Wars and during border conflicts with Pakistan in 1965 and 1971. Together with Jaisalmer Camel Corps they are an important military wing of the Border Security Force of Indian Para-Military. In fact India is probably the only country in the world where the BSF not only does the job of protecting the frontiers but also trains camels to be part of a full fledged battalions. The BSF is the single biggest employer of camels. Largest in Asia, the BSF camel farm in Bikaner is managed by the central government and breeds about half of the camel population in India.

Shot taken near Ladera village, Thar desert some 30km from Bikaner

WS1: Highly decorated camel in front of Junagarh Fort
WS2: Delicately crafted camel, Thar Desert

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Additional Photos by abmdsudi abmdsudi (abmdsudi) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 8322 W: 150 N: 18682] (83449)
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