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SOURCE: INDIA TODAY

Double-humped camels will now be used for transportation and patrolling by the Indian Army in eastern Ladakh’s treacherous terrain. This plan originally from three years ago will come into effect amid the India-China standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Areas like Daulat Beg Oldie or DBO and Depsang where these camels will be deployed at more than 17,000 feet are among locations where armies of both countries have mobilized in great numbers. The animal is also known as Bactrian camel and is found in the Nubra valley of Ladakh at heights of over 12,000 feet. It is natural for the terrain. These camels are being reared at the defence institute of high altitude research in Leh by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Among those reared and trained is young Rangoli, a female camel born to Chinku and Tinku as part of the breeding programme undertaken by the institute in Leh.

After carrying out trials and doing a comparative study with a single-humped camel brought from Rajasthan, it was found that the double-humped camel is better suited for the task at hand.

Breeding of the camels will be done in Leh to ensure that the Army gets the required numbers. A source said current estimate is that of about 50 such camels will be commissioned for the Army.

“The double-humped camels are best suited for these conditions. They can carry loads of 170 kgs at more than 17,000 feet which is much more than the ponies that are being used as of now. They can survive without water for at least 72 hours,” said Col Manoj Batra, a veterinary officer of the Indian Army.

“These will be used for transportation and patrolling and should be handed over to the Army in the next five-six months,” he added.

The trials for these animals were carried out on Daulat Beg Oldie to test the abilities, officials said.

The double-humped camel was used as a material part of the trade for transport on the traditional silk route between Tibet and Ladakh.

A breed called Zanskar ponies were being used until now but it was felt that they are not as swift-footed for sandy terrains. The ponies, however, are good for climbing mountains and can carry loads of up to 40-50 kgs much lesser than the double-humped camel.

With numbers restricted to only 350-400 in Ladakh, the double-humped camels are rare.

The breeding will ensure that numbers keep increasing as per the requirement and that old ones can be replaced with the newborns.

The army is looking at enhancing its logistics and patrolling capabilities in the remotest of areas where there has been tension which includes DBO and Depsang plains.

The project was introduced soon after the Doklam faceoff of 2016 between the Indian and Chinese armies on the India-Tibet-Bhutan tri-junction in Sikkim.