1.1 Rangelands and livestock
1.2 Water is a necessity for livestock
1.3 Man, livestock, water and rangeland are components of the same system
1.4 Suggestions for use of the book
Various definitions of rangeland exist but it is commonly described as an area of shrub and/or grass receiving less than about 750 mm of annual rainfall. Within this definition rangeland may vary from mild sub-arid wooded savanna to desert.
In terms of land use, rangelands constitute the greatest land area in the world. This natural resource is used primarily for extensive livestock production mostly through nomadic and transhumance systems well represented in the Sahelian and Sub-Sahelian zones of Africa and in the equivalent areas of the Near East.
However palatable and plentiful the forage or range may be, the livestock using it must have all the water they need, or they will not thrive. Water at regular intervals, as well as ample supply of forage, is essential if livestock are to be turned off in a marketable conditions.
Water is the major component of the animal organism (65 to 70 percent of its weight). Deprivation of water quickly results in loss of appetite, and death occurs at the end of a few days (3 to 5 days for zebus, 6 to 10 days for sheep, and 15 days or more for camels) when the animal has lost between 25 and 30 percent of its weight.
Inadequate stock water development in range areas not only contributes to an unstable livestock industry and serious livestock losses, but prevents profitable utilization of badly needed grazing areas and encourage destructive overgrazing in the vicinity of existing water supplies. The prime objective in developing a rangeland water supply may therefore be summarized as the provision of adequate clean water to enable an even utilization of the forage available without affecting the fragile equilibrium of the rangeland ecosystem.
Providing adequate water for livestock on range is not merely a question of developing enough wells and springs and ponds to supply water needed by livestock. A proper distribution of stock water in relation to the available forage is equally important.
The problems associated with the rational utilization of grazing land and water resources involve ecological situations within a region, and in one or several countries, so that the identification and definition of the actions to be taken seem to be extremely complex. However the various elements (biological, ecological, sociological, economical, animal, etc.) to be taken into consideration are all mutually inclusive and interconnected. For example, the distribution of the watering points cannot be fixed independently of the characteristics of the rangeland and of the herds; the type of water lifting devices to be installed on the wells cannot be decided without taking into account the maintenance capacity and the wishes of the future users.
Man, water, livestock and rangeland have therefore to be considered as elements of the same system, interacting one on each other in such a way that their interrelations must be used as a background for planning any livestock development project in arid and semi-arid countries.
Chapters 3 and 4 are intended for the water expert who wishes to begin to know about animal water requirements and the importance of rangelands. Chapter 5 is intended for those not already familiar with surface water development while chapter 6 is for those unfamiliar with groundwater.