This photographs shows me with my mentor, Adoji Raika, who challenged me more than twenty years ago to help his camels that were suffering from some kind of strange disease. This request threw my life into utter disarray – as until then I had been a purely academic researcher, and had forgotten much of my veterinary expertise.
Yes, I was initially a veterinarian, then worked for ten years as an archaeozoologist in Jordan, studying domestication and early human-animal relationships. That’s also where I first fell in love with camels, leading to a doctorate on camel domestication at the Veterinary College in Hannover (Germany). After some fieldwork on camel pastoralists in Sudan among the Rashaida, I came to India in 1990 to study the Raika camel herders and have been there ever since that fateful encounter with Adoji (who sadly passed away in early 2014) and his wonderful camel herd.
Now I do everything that I feel is necessary to work towards policies and practices that support socially responsible and ecologically sustainable livestock development, and to develop alternatives to the “Livestock Revolution” which is one of the socially and ecologically most disastrous trends globally. So I am variously a researcher, a writer, an activist, a fund raiser, a teacher and trainer. I also keep learning from pastoralists and from my friends and colleagues in the LIFE Network which all work with livestock keeping communities on the ground.
I am associated with two organisations: The League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development (LPP) that I co-founded in 1992, and Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan (LPPS), a local organisation in Rajasthan (India) and I am dividing my time between the two, but sometimes also advise international organisations, such as FAO, GIZ, UNDP, Worldbank, and others on matters related to livestock.
The latest twist in the tale is that, together with my Rajasthani partner, Hanwant Singh Rathore I have co-founded Camel Charisma, a social enterprise that develops and markets camel products and is running the Kumbhalgarh Camel Dairy at the foot of the Aravalli Hills.
For my complete background click here.