The Camels of Kumbhalgarh are among the tallest in the world, sometimes having a withers height of more than two meters. They are one-humped or dromedary camels and their colors range from reddish brown to almost black. These camels are amazingly friendly, and their friendly behaviour has been reported in national and international media. There is no other place in the world where one can have such a friendly experience with camels.
The camel herders of the Kumbhalgarh area belong to the Raika community, with only a few exceptions. According to their myth of origin, they were tasked with the responsibility of looking after the welfare of the camel by Lord Shiva. The Raika is the only camel herders in the world that have a taboo on camel slaughter and eating camel meat. Traditionally they banned the sale of female camels, camel milk, wool, and the processing of camel milk.
The Raika have a tremendous amount of traditional knowledge about managing camels in tune with the eco system. They are very well aware of the effects of the various trees and shrubs on the health of the camels and on the quality and taste of the milk. Also, they have good knowledge of using plants to treat camels and people. The camel herders spend the night in the field and in the morning they milk their lactating camels and make tea. They drink tea from the folded leaves of the Aak tree, which they carry in their turbans.
One of the problems faced by Raika camel breeders and their families around Kumbhalgarh is that the income for those who depend on camel breeding alone has declined. It has resulted in the changing attitudes, camel milk which was traditionally banned by Raika is their new source of income. Camel milk is good in taste and has clinically proven therapeutic qualities. It is recommended by doctors for Diabetes and can be helpful for autistic children.
Camel milk soaps are establishing a reputation as a beauty product and are appreciated for their moisturising properties. A small scale artisanal production of such soaps has been established in Sadri. Camel Wool is also harvested and processed in the villages around Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary into a range of products, especially fine wool shawls. A small processing plant has been set up in Sadri to produce bio-diverse paper from camel dung, local artists use this paper to make attractive notebooks and greetings cards.
The camels of Kumbhalgarh provide a major tourist attraction and offer enormous potential for ecotourism. Camel trekking is very popular among tourists. Kumbhalgarh is the only place in India where one can visit camel breeding herds and walk among the resting camels.