Ilse Köhler-Rollefson

2002 Associate Laureate, Environment
Germany, Born 1953

Project Goal

Save Rajasthan's camel herds and the traditional way of life of the Raika people

Location: India

German veterinary surgeon Ilse Köhler-Rollefson found it rewarding to help the Raika people of Rajasthan preserve their traditional life as camel-herders.

Born in Germany in 1953, Ilse Köhler-Rollefson qualified as a veterinary surgeon in the 1970s, but was disappointed to find that in veterinary practices life-and-death decisions were mainly based on economics.

She soon found interesting work in Jordan with dromedaries and their Bedouin breeders, which led to a doctorate on the domestication of the camel. A research grant then took her to Rajasthan to study camel pastoralism.

From her first encounter in 1990 with the Raika people in this north-west Indian state, Köhler-Rollefson knew she had found what she was looking for. The Raika have a mystical connection with camels. Since then, she has divided her time between Germany and Rajasthan, where she helps the Raika care for their herds.

Köhler-Rollefson’s 2002 Rolex Award brought many benefits, not least the self-confidence to continue her growing role as an international campaigner for the rights of the Raika and all pastoralist peoples.

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