A Kharai camel plods and plops across the muddy banks of the Kutch district, searching for mangroves. Its long, skinny legs sink into the soft earth as it moves. It’s hard work, but the camel presses ahead regardless. It’s probably hungry and needs to get to those tasty mangrove leaves.
Suddenly, one foot sinks into a deep mud hole, then another. Before the camel knows what’s going on, it’s stuck and unable to climb out of the squelching patch of ooze. It struggles in vain.
Image: Ishaan Raghunandan
The unusual and endangered Kharai camels are bred by the Jat Maldhari people who live in the Kutch district of Gujarat. These fascinating camels have an unusual talent: swimming. And what makes them so unique is their ability to survive in coastal as well as dry ecosystems. Astonishingly, they can paddle up to three kilometers out to sea in search of mangrove leaves, their favorite food.
Of course, all that aquatic skill is no help to this particular camel that’s stuck in the mud. But fortunately for our humped friend, a team of rescuers soon rushes to its aid, accompanied by photographer Ishaan Raghunandan, who documents the whole operation.