For the last twenty years, we have been doing all we can think of to save Rajasthan's unique and wonderful camel culture. But mostly it was a bit "hands off", in so far as we did not actually manage and look after our own camels on a daily basis. Instead the offspring of "Mira", the first camel I bought in 1991 at Pushkar fair, was taken care of by Raika herders from Jojawar, Latada and other villages.
But in 2013, the situation changed. When our three young male camels did not sell at Pushkar (or would only have sold for meat), we decided to bring them home. After all we had a camel enclosure ready in Butibagh that had not been inhabited since the camels that had accompanied us on our camel yatra had left us to become stud camels. And we also had just adopted an orphaned camel girl, Moomal, from Jaisalmer, who really needed some company.
So there we were, finally having a small camel herd in our own backyard, so to speak. It was a lovely feeling, but with all our other commitments, it became pretty clear that we still needed to have somebody looking after them and taking them out for a daily browse. So started the search for a Raika, who still had the skill and inclination to herd camels.
With the help of our friends, we were fortunate to find Manaram Raika, who is not just a camel man, but also has experience herding buffaloes (more lucrative than herding camels) and has travelled on long-distance sheep migration to Madhya Pradesh.