India: Royal family ends tradition of camel sacrifice

Two camels in the Indian state of Rajasthan Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Up until recently, the Tonk royal family sacrificed two camels to give meat to the local poor

A royal family in India's western state of Rajasthan has reportedly announced that it will no longer sacrifice camels as part of a religious feast.

The Tonk royal family has been sacrificing two camels every year since 1864 and giving the meat to the poor as part of the Eid Al-Adha festival. But camels have now been named the state animal of Rajasthan, making it illegal to hunt or kill them, so the family has decided to put an end to the tradition, The Hindu newspaper reports.

Despite the camels' new status in Rajasthan and an ongoing animal rights campaign to end the annual sacrifice, senior Tonk royal family member Nawab Hamid Ali Khan told the Press Trust of India had not felt pressure to end the practice. "The 150-year-old tradition ends now to save the animal and to maintain peace and communal harmony in the Tonk district," Hamid said. A male goat would be sacrificed instead.

According to census data, there are only 322,000 camels left in Rajasthan state, down from 668,000 animals in 1997. Rajasthan says a law may now be required to outlaw camel sacrifice altogether.

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