Mothers from Bishnois religion breastfeed orphaned deer as part of conservation faith in India

Mothers from an Indian tribe who revere the natural world as part of their religion have explained why they breastfeed deer alongside their children.

The Bishnoi religious group in the northern state of Rajasthan place a strong emphasis on the importance of protecting nature and treat deer, such as black bucks, as sacred animals.

Orphaned or injured fawns are taken in by women who are breastfeeding infants and nursed to health as part of their religious duty to protect animals.

"They are not orphans when they have us around, they have new mothers like me who offer them a mother's feed for a healthy life," Roshini Bishnoi told the MailOnline.

The Bishnois religion, which is more than 500 years old and has about one million followers, was founded by Guru Jambheshwar who preached the worship of Hindu god Lord Vishnu and said divine power existed in all creatures equally.

One of the religion's most important tenets is "praan daya", which equates to compassion for all living things.

They also set up a conservation group, the Bishnoi Tiger Force, which has reportedly been instrumental in preventing poachers from killing animals in the region.

Ms Bishnoi added: "I have grown up with these little deers.