2.1 Descriptive and predictive knowledge
2.2 Management practices
2.3 Organization of management
This chapter attempts to provide as wide a cross section as possible of the different types of LKMS among the peoples of arid and semi-arid lands of Africa. It first discusses the descriptive knowledge: how they use their natural resources, how they name and classify them, and how they understand the inter-relationships between the resources.
In a second section, the discussion focuses on how the local people manage (harvest, process, store, etc.) their natural resources on a daily basis, and what impact these practices have on the natural resources. It touches on traditional herd and range management practices, management of trees and shrubs, water, hay and fodder, and other resources including wildlife and wild plant gathering.
In the final section, the social, economic, and political organization and control over natural resources is discussed. It covers a brief view of production systems and strategies, natural resource tenure, the occurrence of reserves and protected areas, and the means by which these rules are enforced.
2.1.1 Forms of utilization of natural resources
2.1.2 Descriptive knowledge
2.1.3 Ecology and biogeography
The study of descriptive knowledge, the way people describe their physical environment, can provide insights into how local peoples categorize and perceive their environment. It shows what the people consider important and practical. We can gain an understanding of how much control they perceive as having over the elements, and what they base their future expectations and predictions on. In this section, a brief review of what they use natural resources for, is followed by how they name, classify, and describe physical elements, and how they perceive ecological interrelationships.
All natural resources in pastoral areas are used for both productive and non-productive uses. Water, perhaps the most important item in an arid environment, is used for both human and animal consumption, cleanliness, coolness, fishing, and certain rituals. Soil is used for pottery, for making adobe bricks (in the case of settled or partially settled agropastoralists), for extracting iron and copper by specialized guilds, and as salt licks for livestock. But by far the most diverse use is made of plant, and to a lesser extent wildlife, resources.
Plants provide food, fuel, fodder, timber and fibre for tools and construction of houses and fences, crafts, dyes, musical instruments, weapons, utensils, medicine, and other ritual products. In addition, they are used for shade, as landmarks for orientation in space, for salt and oil, to build smoke fires to keep insects at bay, to extract poisons, as a source of drinking water, as sugar, to make alcoholic beverages, etc. (see BOX 2.1).
Of the many studies on the uses of plants among pastoralists, a few can be mentioned as examples. Among the Mossi and Basi agropastoralists of southeast Burkina Faso, young boys gather hay for calves, medicinal plants which their father tells them to gather when necessary, and smoke producing plants to ward off insects at the corral6. The Lugbara of northwest Uganda collect a certain plant, from whose ash they obtain salt7. The Tonga of Zambia harvest Dactyloctenium aegyptium, Brachiaria spp, Panicum spp, Echinochloa spp, Rottboellia spp, Urochloa spp, and wild sorghum as cereals during famines, and supplement food with leaf relishes. These provide them with sources of vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats. They also use plants for tools, building material, fibre, salt, medicine, poisons, etc.8 During the drought of 1972, the Twareg of Niger ate wild seeds and leaves, and searched for seeds in ant and termite hills9. The seeds of waterlilies are used by the Dinka of southern Sudan to make beer10.
The Bushmen of Kalahari eat mangetti nut which has 5 times the
calories and 10 times the protein of most cereals. This nut makes up two thirds
of the vegetable diet of theakung bushmen. The /Gwi bushmen do not have access
to drinking water for long stretches of the dry season and get it from the tsama
melon and rumen of animals11. The Zaghawa of Chad and Sudan harvest
many annual grasses for food and beer (D. aegyptium, Echinochloa colona,
Panicum laetum, Eragrostis pilosa, and Oryza breviligulata).
Cenchrus biflorus and Tribulus terrestris seeds (and leaves of
latter) are used only during famine. Herders eat wild fruits on the job. Plants
are also used for sugar, flour, nuts, and medicine12.
Although use of wild plants by pastoralists is usually for self-consumption, some families in each group will specialize in collecting and selling them. For example, one Wodaabe Fulani family from Niger specializes in collecting medicinal plants and selling them in the early dry season on their transhumant route into Mali, Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea13.
Almost all plant species are used for something, making it difficult to write some plants off as unimportant or undesirable, as is usually done in most reseeding and revegetation programmes. For example, among the Tonga of Zambia, of 222 species studied, 93% had a use14. The diversity of plants used for food and medicine alone can be high. For example, among the Pokot of Kenya, out of 307 plant species identified by botanist, 20% were used for food, and 39% for medicine15.
Animals and insects are used for food, tools, and indicators of ecological dynamics. However, their consumption as food among pastoralists is often accompanied by taboos that restrict the consumption or killing of certain species to certain groups of people. For example, among the Turkana some animals are not eaten because of supernatural powers or because of ancestral taboos16. Among the Zaghawa, although insects, locusts, caterpillars, eggs, and honey are eaten by all, only non-circumcised children and members of the blacksmith caste can eat rabbits, and small birds17 (see section 2.2.5 for more on taboos).
The diversity in the use of animals is usually less than in plants, and can vary even among neighboring groups. For example, among the Turkana, 103 out of 148 mammals and birds are eaten, whereas the Rendille only eat 6 species, all ungulates18.
18.104.22.168 Soils and geomorphology
22.214.171.124 Plants and vegetation types
126.96.36.199 Traditional veterinary and human medicine
188.8.131.52 Measurement systems
The local knowledge of climatic patterns, their variability in space and time, and the ways in which it is predicted, forms an indispensible part of the information the pastoralist and farmer need to survive. Our study of the detailed weather lore of local people is important because it reflects the great spatial variation in tropical rainfall19, as well as how they have organized their daily agricultural (farming and herding) tasks to fit the climatic patterns. The local calendar is more flexible than the western calendar (i.e. does not necessarily have a set number of days per season) because it is linked to both climatic variability and agricultural activities20.
The classification of climatic events into seasons and sub-seasons ranges from very detailed categories to a simple system of a few classes. No matter what the actual climatic pattern (and in arid and semi-arid Africa it can vary from one rainy season to two separate rainy seasons), the minimum number of categories appears to be three seasons (e.g. the Fulani of Yatenga, northern Burkina Faso21), and the maximum 8 (e.g. the Wodaabe Fulani, whose eight categories are related to both climatic patterns, and forage phenology and value22). The majority of the Sahelo-sudanian pastoralists recognize 4 or 5 seasons (e.g. the Twareg of Niger23, Fulani of the Niger River Delta24, Fulani of south central Mauritania25, the people of western Chad26, and the Zaghawa of Chad and Sudan27).
Local knowledge can vary within the same ethnic group, especially if it is a large group dispersed over a large area, such as the Fulani. For example, the Fulani of Yatenga recognize only 3 seasons28, but the Fulani of the Niger River delta distinguish 4 seasons based on rainfall patterns, not flood patterns29, and the Wodaabe Fulani of Niger recognize 8 seasons30. Given that the climatic pattern in these three areas are not dissimilar, the variation could be due to either different information eliciting techniques among the researchers, or due to cultural influences (or both).
The etiology of the traditional calendar can provide useful hints on how agricultural activities are organized. The names of the climatic categories usually refer to a prominent climatic characteristic (e.g. rains vs. dry), specific agricultural activities (e.g. dispersion of herds during mid rains) or social events that are conducted at that time (e.g. marriages). A good example in point is the Turkana of northern Kenya31.
Prominent drought years are well remembered. For example, the Moors and Fulani of Mauritania still remember the 1913 drought, the former calling it after Boscia senegalensis (because they had to eat its fruit) the latter calling it rice, because they got famine aid from the French32. The Turkana remember drought patterns well, maintaining that only about one year in four or five has a 'good wet season'33.
Climatic predictions are based on countless years of accumulated observations. In some cases, they may be accurate, in others not. For example, the Rendille of northern Kenya base their predictions on the constellations of stars, lunar phases, cloud patterns, but also the viscera of animals34.
There are predictors (indicators) for the onset of rains, the quality of rains, the end of rains, droughts, etc. These indicators can range from the movement of birds, frogs, ants, and other fauna, to changes in plant phenology and meteorological conditions such as changes in air temperature, lightening patterns, etc. (see BOX 2.2).
The Turkana of Kenya say that several birds (ground hornbill, green wood hoopoe, spotted eagle owl, and night jar) and frogs are prophets of rain35. In western Kenya people use indicators of frogs, birds, white ants, lightening and rise in swamp waters to forecast rainfall36. In Zaria, Nigeria, certain birds indicate a drought37. In northeast Tanzania, the indicators of beginning of rains are (in order of frequency of response): increase in temperature, lightening, change in patterns and behavior of birds, insects and mammals, and three different types of plant changes (flowering, new leaves, grass wilting). In the same area, forecasts of end of rains depends mostly on meteorological factors (ie. drizzling or steady rainfall, wind strength, temp change, etc.), but also fauna (e.g. bee swarms, birds changing color) and flora (ripening of seeds, decline in bamboo fluid, etc.)38.
The Fulani of Mauritania predict seasons by the position of the stars; for example, when the big dipper jungo niiwi is directly above (ie. August) then it is time for the most abundant rains, and when its tail is pointing to the top then it is the end of the rainy season39. In western Nigeria, farmers start planting when the new leaves of the baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) and Chlorophora excelsa appear, and when the konkoto bird stops singing40.
The quality of the rainfall (i.e. its quantity and
distribution overtime and space) is usually evaluated after the end of the
season, based primarily on meteorological factors. For example in northeastern
Tanzania, some factors are the distribution of rains, fogs, sunshine periods,
etc.41. Only one record was found of the prediction of the
quality of rainfall; namely, the Kamba farmers of Kenya believe that a rainbow
means no or little rain will follow42.
In order to effectively use the LKMS on climate, we need more information on how far in advance the local people make forecasts, and the standard deviation of accuracy of forecasts compared to actual events44.
All records indicate that the knowledge of soil types and their quality and potential for agricultural use is quite high among pastoralists. In many cases, the soil classification system is very similar to the one used by formal science (e.g. see BOX 2.3), but it often tends to be detailed only if a particular use is made of the soil type45. Thus it is very closely linked to land use potentials (whether pastures or farmland). For example, the Somali distinguish 4 types of soils based on their suitability for grazing different livestock46.
The Bambara agropastoralists of Mali have one of the most
complete soil classification systems. They distinguish 7 major soil types, which
very regularly correspond to western soil texture types. The level of
classification is not equally detailed for all soil groups. The most detailed
division is for the sandy soil, due to the fact that these are used for
cultivation. They also distinguish soil color - not just hue but also
greyness/brightness and darkness/lightness (similar to formal science). They
also classify soils according to their inundation potential, ease of cultivation
and potential for certain crops47.
The names of soil types and categories are seldom duplicated, as in vegetation nomenclature, but tend to be less detailed than the latter54 (see below). Soil names are very particular to each ethnic group. However, in some cases, the same word may mean different things for different groups. For example, the Twareg and Gaobe Fulani who live in the same area (northern Burkina Faso) have different meanings for the word seno: for the former it refers to a distinct topographical feature (ancient dunes), while for the latter, it connotes its use and potential for agriculture55.
Compared to LKMS on climate and plants, the LKMS of soils among pastoralists has not been covered well. More research is needed on their classification system, their knowledge of the relations between soils and pasture types, and how they evaluate soil differences.
The knowledge of plants is perhaps the most refined aspect of LKMS among pastoralists. The simplest classification of plants corresponds to the specific epithet level in the western Linnean classification system, but some groups distinguish higher categories of classification, such as genus and families (see BOX 2.4).
The Somali living in Ethiopia have names for every single
plant species56, and the Zaghawa of Chad/Sudan have a classification
system very similar to the botanical one57. The Suiei Dorobo
hunter/gatherers of northern Kenya, have several higher categories: the highest
three divisions are 1) grasses and Cyperaceae, 2) parasites and cryptogams, 3)
all other plants. The latter is divided into herbs, vines, trees and shrubs.
Some plants have a binomial nomenclature (like the Linnean system)58.
The Gabra of northern Kenya recognize not only species, but also three Families:
Graminae, Capparaceae, and Burseraceae59.
Plant nomenclature and classification is usually based on its morphology and phenology. Some examples were found among the Somali60, nomads of Wabe Shebelle valley in Ethiopia61, Wodaabe Fulani of Niger62, and the Turkana of Kenya63. In Sudan, Heliotropium spp. (a member of the Borraginaceae family with scorpioid inflorescence) are called tail of scorpion64. The Turkana of Kenya have more generic names among herbs than trees and shrubs65, reflecting, perhaps, the greater diversity of use of the latter for both human and animal food.
Among the Suiei Dorobo, the same plant will be called
differently depending on the attribute that one wishes to emphasize, such as
medicinal, toxic, etc.66. In addition, the
plants that have common characters have another generic name on top of their
specific one67. The Dogon of Mali too, will name plants according to
their therapeutic value for human diseases68. The Mbeere of Kenya
have utilitarian categories for plants, such as shade, perfume, and
bedding69. The Arab pastoralists of the Sahel have special names for
barks of those trees that are used for tannin70. Phenological changes
in plants are often reflected in several names for the same plant corresponding
to the early vegetative stages, flowering, senescence, etc. For example, the
Wodaabe Fulanidifferentiate mature vs. young green grass71, and the
Dinka give different name to different phenological stages of Hyparrhenia
rufa depending mainly on its forage value for roofing
Knowledge of the botany of plants can be quite detailed. All groups have different names for plant parts, such as roots, stems, bark, flowers, etc. For example, the Twareg distinguish leaves that are simple, from pennate ones75.
The local people also have an intimate knowledge of the characteristics and values of different plants. For example, their value in stimulating milk and meat production in livestock, their toxicity, saltiness, and medicinal value, their ability to indicate the agricultural potential of a soil, and their prominent characteristics (such as prolific fruiters, fast rate of growth, etc.) (see BOX 2.6).
The Pokot and Turkana of Kenya recognize the seasonal
availability of different plants and their role in stimulating greater milk and
meat yields76. The Wodaabe of Niger know that Zornia
glochidiata is toxic to livestock only in its beginning, vegetative stages.
They also know that certain plants are salty, e.g. Ipomoea acanthocarpa,
and will deliberately take their livestock to graze on them during the rainy
season77. The Mbozi of southern Tanzania use plants to indicate the
agricultural potential of an area78. Among the Samburu of Kenya,
blessings refer to trees. For example, to bear as many children as the
enparuei tree, to live as long as the nkusuman tree, to
be as sweet as the seiye tree, and to have peace as the
Vegetation communities are usually classed according to broad divisions, within which further sub-divisions are made. The classification and nomenclature of vegetation types and communities is usually defined by a combination of integrated factors, such as the dominant plant species, the soil type, and the shape of the landscape (see BOX 2.7).
The Maasai of Kenya differentiate between pastures and the
wilderness (the former used for grazing, the latter for hunting),
and divide pastures into lowland (wet season) and highland (dry season)
areas81. The Fulani of northern Burkina Faso recognize 4 major
vegetation communities, each divided into different range types82.
The Zaghawa distinguish many different range types, depending on their forage
value (coarse, tender, salty, poisonous, etc.) and effect on livestock
(constipating, irritating, nutritious, etc.)83. The Mbozi of Southern
Tanzania have several broad vegetation types, but in the same type will have
different names according to the density of vegetation84. The Wodaabe
categorize plants according to the type of soil they grow on and in which they
are best suited to85. The Twareg distinguish many different
woodlands, e.g. efei is a large area with big trees,
afara is an area with a mixture of trees, bushes and herbs,
taferfera is a dense thicket, agoras is a line of
riparian trees, abatol is a small, isolated wooded area,
amesekni is an isolated, remarkable tree in the middle of
grassland/desert, or an isolated tree of one species in the middle of a forest
which is used as a point of reference86.
Most studies on plant LKMS are restricted to presenting an alphabetical list of plant species and their equivalent local names and etiology of the names. More work needs to be done on systems of plant classification, botanical names and divisions, and plant identification.
The study of local water systems, although fairly well developed for rainfed and irrigated cropping systems, is less easily found among pastoralists. Most pastoralists will have different names for different types of water points, such as wells (large, small, etc.) and natural ponds88. For example, the Twareg of Niger differentiate a chain of ponds from a single pond89. The Fulani of Senegal also differentiate water points for human use (that are cleaner) from those for livestock use90. In addition, many groups have a fine-tuned art of detecting the location and quantity/quality of ground water, detailed knowledge of geological strata, and elaborate systems for evaluating the quality and duration of natural ponds (see BOX 2.8). Much of this knowledge, if tested against formal science, may prove to be accurate and useful in helping to design new water points. For example, the Zaghawa of Chad and Sudan consider Acacia albida to be an indicator of good ground water for permanent wells. Botanists agree because of the tree's long tap root91.
The treatise of A.S. Ba (1982) provides a rare but detailed look into the water lore of the Fulani of Mauritania. They have a detailed art of detecting ground water. Their indicators are based on topography (e.g. shallow aquifers can be found near natural ponds or in depressions of mountains), on plant species (especially tap-rooted trees such as Bauhinia rufescens, Tamaris senegalensis, Capparis decidua, and Acacia albida, but also perennial grasses, such as Vetivera nigritana, and Panicum anababtismum), and the health or vigor of the plants, such as the greenness of leaves during the year. Other indicators are based on fauna (e.g. wild boars only live where they can dig and find moist soil; other animals that prefer to stay around moist places are caimans, amphibious lizards, tortoise, band of butterflies, some bird species, and many termite hills). The Fulani also are familiar with the geological strata in their area, and that they must dig through the whole layer of red or grey clayey soil and arrive at the sandy layer before finding ground water. A good quality ground water that is clear, sweet, and has a good mineral content, is indicated by the presence of Guiera senegalensis, B. rufescens, termite hills, and the depth of wells (the deeper, the better quality).
The best quality natural ponds are indicated by the presence
of water lilies, followed by Acacia nilotica, and Mitragyna
inermis. Bad, diseased water, is indicated by the presence of the grass
Echinochloa pyramidalis. Water quality is also tested by immersing a
leather container in it. The best water does nothing to the leather, and as the
quality of water deteriorates, the intensity and duration of the color of the
leather will change to white, black, red or finally yellow/orange. Water quality
is also evaluated by its effect on livestock, especially their behavior after
drinking (whether they are content or not) and the yield of
The pastoralist's knowledge of his livestock will be touched upon only briefly. Besides knowing what types of forage are preferred by his different animals, and how often they need water, the pastoralist also knows a lot about their behavior and other needs (see BOX 2.9).
The Rendille of northern Kenya say that camels prefer silty,
chalky soil, cattle prefer lateritic and montmorillonitic soils, and shoats
(sheep and goats) prefer lateritic and hard stony ground93. The
Fulani believe that cattle are more intelligent than shoats, because they can
remember the location of water, salt, good pasture, etc., after
being shown only once, and are able to detect predators better94. The
Wodaabe of Niger say that dew is good for cattle but not camels95.
The Twareg of Niger, and many other pastoralists, know that livestock have to
use salt licks to purge parasites. The Twareg also know that their livestock
have to graze on Ipomoea acanthocarpa each year; this herb has been shown
to contain significant amounts of vitamin A96.
Knowledge of his livestock defines how the pastoralist uses the natural resources. For example, they define whether he will herd them continuously or not, or whether he will use certain pastures at specific times of the year.
Livestock management, including the LKMS on livestock behavior and needs, is one topic that is amply touched upon by most researchers. However, rarely is an attempt made to show how this information helps the herder to make decisions concerning the use of natural resources.
In most cases, wild animals are classified and named at the species level, although generic names for non-important species can also be found (for example, among Turkana of Kenya99). Differentiation into sub-divisions usually occurs if the fauna are also eaten, used, or are important pests in the production cycle. For example, the Hausa agropastoralists of Niger aggregate all locusts and grasshoppers in three levels, but ants and termites are classed only at the species level100.
In addition, wildlife can be classified according to their value. The Turkana divide all wildlife into good (themselves) and bad (enemies)101. In most cases, wildlife nomenclature is distinct for each ethnic group. However, variation in names can occur even among sub-tribes. For example, the Kel Tamachek (Twareg) of Air call the cheetah what the Kel Tamachek of Ouadalan call the serval102.
The pastoralists' knowledge of the behavior of wildlife may not be as detailed as the hunter/gatherers (see BOX 2.10), but nevertheless it is high. For example, the Zaghawa of Chad and Sudan have a sophisticated knowledge of animal tracks103. The people of southern Chad also know of a certain bird that indicates the presence of a bee colony, and the value of different trees for attracting bee colonies; e.g. Khaya senegalensis is thought to be bad for bees, which may be due to its bitter resin and nectar104.
The !kung San of northwest Botswana and northeast Namibia are
described by Blurton Jones & Konner (1987). Their knowledge of wildlife
behavior includes much attention to details of behavior and ecology of
practically every animal. They make a distinction between data (actual
observations) and hearsay, and generally avoid making inferences unless they
have strong observational links. Their knowledge is also dependent on what they
find necessary or common sensical to observe. For example, they do not know
whether the lion's cub's eyes are open at birth or not, because they say it is
foolish to approach the lioness so close at that time. In addition, they have a
rich mythology of animal behavior that may appear non-rational (e.g.
being possessed by birds). However, some of their observations have helped
western scientists. For example, their observation that quelea, a major
crop-damaging bird, will strip leaves off the end of branches a few days before
coming to rest there, has helped scientists in their quelea population
The knowledge of diseases and their cure is quite high among all rural populations, who have had to depend on local means to mitigate the effects of diseases. The study of veterinary and human medicinal LKMS has gained quite a momentum106. One aspect that directly or indirectly affects natural resources is the knowledge of epidemiology, i.e. the presence of diseases, contagious or otherwise107, which then determines the pastoralists' use and avoidance of certain areas until all signs of the disease have disappeared. The Fulani of Yatenga (northern Burkina Faso) may not make the connection between tse tse flies and trypanosomiasis108, but they do know that they have to avoid tse tse infested areas, otherwise their animals will get sick.
The knowledge of traditional cures, especially of traditional vaccination techniques against some of the diseases (see BOX 2.11), allows the pastoralist greater freedom in selecting infected pastures.
The pastoralists of Mali [unfortunately unspecified by author]
have traditional vaccination techniques109. The Wodaabe Fulani of
Niger have a traditional method of vaccinating against Contagious Bovine
Pleuropneumonia and smallpox110. The Fulani of west central Burkina
Faso vaccinate their cattle against rinderpest by inserting a part of the
diseased lung of a dead animal, or injecting the solution in which the lung
tissue has been soaked, into an incision of the nose of a healthy one, and
leaving it there until the wound festers. The Fulani of Senegal and Mauritania
also have a similar technique for bovine pneumonias111. The fact that
several Fulani groups, so geographically dispersed, have similar vaccination
techniques, suggests that the original LKMS, before the groups separated, has
remained intact through the centuries.
Measurement systems - how people measure time, distance, volume, weight, etc. - are important components of LKMS in that they define how people evaluate productivity and yields, determine what is needed to get from one place to another, and communicate the information to others. No study was found of measurement systems among pastoralists. Two studies among farmers, one in southern and central Ghana112, and the other in southern Nigeria113 may help to stimulate research among pastoralists (see BOX 2.12).
LKMS measurements may be different from formal science in the
standards that are used, but they are similar in that predetermined units form
the basis of measurements of time, volume, weight, and length. These units are
usually based on parts of the body, or other common objects. People have a very
strong memory of the unit, and a strong ability to reproduce it with a
non-significant margin of error114. Another major difference is that
geographical distances are measured not by a linear measurement (such as
kilometers), but by the amount of time that is necessary to traverse it, a more
realistic assessment where straight roads are rarely found. In addition,
measurements related to agricultural tasks are based on output per unit of
labour, rather than output per unit of land115.
Most groups have precise systems of classifying and naming each ecological zone, can cite landmarks that form the boundaries of these zones, and are familiar with the spatial location of each feature, be it a plant or a hill. Knowledge of the spatial location and variation of natural resources is an essential and necessary part of the production system, and spatial terms can be described in more complex ways than in western languages (see BOX 2.13).
The Somali of Bay region117 and the Gabra of northern Kenya118 can locate landmarks that form the boundaries of pastures. Among the latter, every location in the landscape has a story and a significance attached to it119. The Tallensi of southwest Burkina Faso and northeast Ghana name places based on prominent topographical or geographical features. For example, nayaberaabo'og means cattle poison grass valley referring to a particular grass that grows there. Each Tallensi individual knows every rock and tree, and almost every tuft of grass, the quality of soil, and the ownership of farm plots in his or neighboring settlements120.
The bushmen of Kalahari can locate plants based on their
knowledge of the association between plants and soil types121.
Spatial terms can refer to several related spaces. For example, among the
Fulani, Wolof, and Lela the word for house can also mean wall around
the compound, and an extended family122. The Tonga and Senegalese
Diola names for spatial types have several parameters, including soil,
vegetation, topography, geomorphology, agricultural potential, land use, and
action needed to use the land (build a fence, dig a ditch, etc.)123.
Among the Konkomba of northwest Togo and northeast Ghana, space has both a
geographical and social dimension, so that if two adjacent lands are owned by
different social group or lineage, then they are said to be far
Almost all pastoral and fanning groups are familiar with ecological associations, and the relations between climate, soil, vegetation, wildlife, topography, and human occupation. Gaps in knowledge are often filled by religion and mysticism. For example, Yoruba farmers could trace the hydrological cycle from rain to soil to plant to runoff to ocean, but not ocean to cloud and rain, which they then explained by divine providence126. Unfortunately, similar types of information do not appear to have been collected among pastoralists.
Knowledge of the evolution of a plant community can be very high, especially since it is based on long term, accumulated observations. For example, the Fulani of northwest Burkina Faso127, the Wodaabe Fulani128, and the Twareg Illabakan of Niger129, know how rainfall variations and droughts affect the plant community, and how the morphological and phenological characteristics of plants can help them resist and even take advantage of stress. The Mbozi of southern Tanzania can describe the progress of plant succession in fallow fields130.
Knowledge of wildlife ecology can be quite high. For example, the Zaghawa of Chad and Sudan are keen observers of wildlife habits, calling their Sahara pastures as the grazing grounds of the oryx and the soemmering's gazelle131. The Maasai and Turkana know movements of wildlife very well, and will try to get to good rangelands before the latter get there. In Amboseli, Maasai enter the swamps after the elephants and buffalo have improved the structure for cattle132.
The process of environmental degradation is another ecological feature that is known in detail. For example, the Fulani of northern Burkina Faso perceive degradation by changes in plant composition133 and decrease in soil cover, and have names for all the same types of soil degradation that formal science recognizes134. Both the Fulani and Twareg believe certain rangelands are dirty or polluted due to overgrazing, and certain forages are weak due to excessive animal pressure135. The Dinka of Sudan look at the quantity of manure left by livestock in order to detect overuse of the range136.
The cause of degradation may be overgrazing or other factors. For example, the Fulani of Yatenga recognize that retrogression of perennial grasses is due to overgrazing as well as drought, bush fires, and insufficient time for fallow137. However, degradation may mean different things to different people. Most commonly, as among the Rendille, it is taken to refer to the loss of forage rather than the loss of soil potential138.
The pastoralists are often accused of not knowing much about ecological dynamism of their environment, and thus causing environmental problems. However, the reason is most certainly due to the fact that researchers have neglected to study it, and not that it does not exist. It is an area that needs to be given immediate priority in research if only because of the grave and pressing problems of environmental degradation in the arid and semi-arid areas of Africa.
Local knowledge of natural resources is made up of three types of information: 1) accumulated cultural knowledge, 2) knowledge modified through contact with other cultures, and 3) progressive learning of the environment139. Descriptive LKMS depends on what they can see and remember without the aid of microscopes, journals and historical records. But their strong memory and incorporation of the knowledge into songs, stories, and daily proverbs allows the information to be passed down generations. For example, the Kel Dinnik Twareg have a game where all the movements, positions, pieces and strategies are named after range and herd management activities and objects140. These games and stories can be used to gain an understanding of local management strategies.
Most of the descriptive knowledge has an utilitarian character, since it is detailed only if there is a use of a particular resource. However, other types of knowledge do not have an immediate use and yet are part of the local lore. Thus, labeling LKMS as utilitarian is just as bad as irrational because it assumes that there is no intellectual or abstract dimension, and therefore it is not capable of change and growth from within141.
LKMS depends on what the people consider to be necessary or common sensical to know. They may see correlations but not understand causality, and won't necessarily pick up on regional trends (such as macro-economics), geologic cycles, etc.142. Their knowledge of the local ecology may be very fine tuned, but once outside their territory they will know less143.
In almost all cases discussed in the previous sections, the knowledge of natural resources, whether climate, plants, water or disease, is accurate and sometimes similar to formal science. But the advantage that LKMS has is its ecological particularism. For example, local people can have information that is hard for scientist to obtain, such as the spread of grasshoppers through different villages over several years in Nigeria144. And even in some cases, the local people can identify more species and varieties of plants than formal science, perhaps because they have had more time to search and find all the plants in their area. Some examples were found among the aKo bushmen of Botswana, and farmers in Nigeria145. LKMS also reflects information that the formal scientist may find unnecessary to obtain. For example, that pest damage may not change total yield of cassava much, but will make the tuber harder and unusable as flour146. In many cases, LKMS has much to gain from formal science, but also vice-versa.
The classification and nomenclature of soils, geomorphology, and vegetation shows detailed knowledge of micro-variation in resources, and sources of environmental risk147. The classification systems depend on the complexity and diversity of the local environment, but will also indicate patterns and priorities of use. The same resource may have different names, and conversely, different things may have same name because they share an underlying concept. For example, the Ikale of southwest Nigeria have the same name for fertilizer, pesticide, and witchcraft because all three connote power and control over the environment148. In addition, vernacular names are often of restricted local use, even from one village to the next149. Classification systems, at least for plants, also appear to be more detailed among pastoralists than farmers living in the same area, although more comparative studies are needed before this point can be generalized. For example, the Amhara farmers of Ethiopia lump more plants together into generic names than the Somali pastoralists who use the same area150.
The value and use of natural resources is relative to what is available and what tradition dictates. Good examples are plants that are noxious and abundant in one area, but rare and desirable in another, and taboos on eating certain wildlife.
One important aspect that has emerged recently is that one cannot assume that all LKMS is known and shared equally by everyone in the local community. Variation in knowledge is due to age and sex differences, aptitude, economic and social class, etc.151 Older people usually know more. Variation due to individual skill can be substantial, and may be due to different levels of informal experimentation152. Sexual and social differences are usually due to divisions of labour. Women may know more about gathering wild cereals, while men may know more about the best wood for house-poles. However, this relationship may not necessarily hold true where the production system is totally dependent on wild resources, such as hunter/gatherers. For example, among aKo bushmen, women do all of the plant gathering, so one would expect them to know more about plants, but a survey found that men know just as much153. Finally, there are specialists or interest groups such as marabouts, blacksmiths, local doctors, who are the repository of specialized knowledge.
This diversity in the level of knowledge suggests that it is not enough to just talk to a small of group informants or only the group's leader154. In addition, one cannot assume that the information will be given freely, whether to researchers, or to other villagers155; this is especially true of the specialists, who may either stand in the way of change, or may provide a basis for collaboration156, depending on what the local socio-political context is, and how they are approached.
In conclusion, the descriptive knowledge of natural resources among pastoralists has been shown to be quite thorough. This knowledge enables them to make full use of the resources around them for their daily work and survival. The study of the descriptive knowledge not only shows what the building blocks of the production system are, but also may provide interesting hypotheses or even guidelines for conducting formal scientific research and experimentation in the locality.
1. Bernus 1979, pp. 122-124; Gillet 1987.
2. Capot-Rey 1962, p. 303.
3. Biesele 1971, p. 65.
4. Allan 1965, pp. 255-256.
5. Brokensha & Riley 1980a, p. 123.
6. Delgado 1979, p. 126.
7. Baxter & Butt 1953, p. 121.
8. Allan 1965, pp. 255-256.
9. Bernus 1977, p. 211.
10. Alfredo Guillet 1989, pers. comm.
11. Biesele 1971, p. 65.
12. Tubiana 1969, pp. 58-70.
13. Maliki et al 1984, p. 324.
14. Morgan 1980, p. 2.
15. Tanaka 1981 cited in Barrow 1988, p. 7.
16. Itani n.d., p. 41.
17. Tubiana 1969, p. 71.
18. Itani n.d., p. 41.
19. Jackson 1982, p. 168.
20. Knight 1974a, p. 64.
21. Benoit 1979, p. 49.
22. Maliki et al 1984, pp. 257-266.
23. Winter 1984, pp. 552-556.
24. Wilson 1986, p. 33.
25. Ba 1982, p. 10.
26. Clanet 1977, p. 250.
27. Tubiana & Tubiana 1977, p. 33.
28. Benoit 1979, p. 49.
29. Wilson 1986, p,33.
30. Maliki et al 1984, pp. 257-266.
31. Dyson-Hudson & Dyson-Hudson 1982, p. 220.
32. Hervouet 1977, p. 77.
33. Gulliver 1970, p. 23.
34. Oba 1985.
35. Itani n.d., p. 47.
36. Tyrell 1973 cited in Jackson 1982, p. 171.
37. Fry 1973 cited in Jackson 1982, p. 171.
38. Jackson 1982, pp. 171-174.
39. Ba 1982, pp. 10-12.
40. Richards 1985, p. 47.
41. Jackson 1982, p. 175.
42. Silberfein 1984, p. 104.
43. Cassanelli 1984, p. 484.
44. Jackson 1982, p. 175.
45. Knight 1974a, pp. 69-71.
46. Hjort 1976b, p. 78.
47. Aubert & Newsky 1949, pp. 107-109.
48. Diop 1987, p. 26.
49. Tubiana & Tubiana 1977, p. 34.
50. Knight 1974a, pp. 69-71.
51. Maliki et al 1984, p. 464.
52. Winter 1984, p. 552.
53. Behnke & Kerven 1984, p. 19.
54. Baumer 1975a, p. 11.
55. Barral 1977, p. 7.
56. Guillaumet 1972, p. 76.
57. Tubiana 1969, p. 62.
58. Ichikawa 1987, p. 3.
59. Stiles & Kassam 1986, p. 4.
60. Guillaumet 1972, pp. 77-78.
61. Guillaumet 1972, p. 77.
62. Maliki et al 1984.
63. Morgan 1980.
64. Baumer 1975a, p. 11.
65. Itani n.d., p. 40.
66. Ichikawa 1987, p. 4.
67. Ichikawa 1987, p. 3.
68. Dieterlen 1952 cited in Carrington 1983, p. 149.
69. Brokensha & Riley 1980a, p. 119.
70. Bernus 1979, p. 104.
71. Maliki et al 1984, p. 257.
72. A. Guillet 1989, pers. comm.
73. Baumer 1975a, p. 11.
74. For example Le Mouel 1969, p. 481, writing among the Eskimo of the western shore of Greenland.
75. Bernus 1979, p. 104.
76. Barrow 1988, p. 7.
77. Maliki et al 1984, pp. 257 & 280.
78. Knight 1974a, p. 76.
79. Spencer 1965, p. 178.
80. Monod 1975, p. 70.
81. Galaty 191, p. 4.
82. Marchal 1983, p. 555.
83. Tubiana & Tubiana 1977, pp. 35 & 84.
84. Knight 1974a, p. 76.
85. Maliki et al 1984, p. 290.
86. Bernus 1979, p. 123.
87. Brokensha & Riley 1980a, p. 119.
88. Tubiana & Tubiana 1977, p. 9.
89. Barral 1977, p. 18.
90. Diop 1987, p. 41.
91. Tubiana & Tubiana 1977, p. 35.
92. Ba 1982, pp. 29-31.
93. Oba 1985.
94. Riesman 1984, p. 181.
95. Maliki et al 1984, p. 259.
96. Bernus 1977, p. 207.
97. Ba 1982, p. 23.
98. Ohta 1987, p. 1.
99. Itani n.d., p. 26.
100. Levy-luxereau 1980, p. 265.
101. Itani n.d., p. 41.
102. Barral 1977, p. 21.
103. Tubiana & Tubiana 1977, p. 9.
104. Gadbin 1976, p. 107.
105. Blurton Jones & Konner 1987, pp. 8-17.
106. For example, see McCorkle 1986; Ohta 1984; Maliki et al 1984.
107. Ba 1982; Maliki et al 1984, p. 291.
108. Benoit 1979, p. 51.
109. Woillet 1979, p. 208.
110. Maliki et al 1984, pp. 291 & 455.
111. McCorkle 1986, p. 135.
112. Fink 1980.
113. Richards 1980.
114. Fink 1980, p. 251.
115. Richards 1980, p. 186.
116. Richards 1980, p. 187.
117. Behnke & Kerven 1984, p. 10.
118. Stiles & Kassam 1986, p. 3.
119. Schlee 1987, p. 5.
120. Fortes 1945, p. 158.
121. Howes 1980, p. 337.
122. Langley 1975, p. 92.
123. Langley 1975, p. 94.
124. Langley 1975, p. 97.
125. Bernus 1981b, pp. 102-105.
126. Knight 1980, p. 223.
127. Benoit 1978, p. 41.
128. Maliki et al 1984, p. 290.
129. Bernus 1979, p. 120.
130. Knight 1974a, p. 76.
131. Tubiana & Tubiana 1977, p. 72.
132. Western 1982, pp. 193-195.
133. Benoit 1978, p. 41.
134. Marchal 1983, p. 608.
135. Clyburn 1978, p. 108.
136. Niamir 1982.
137. Benoit 1979, p. 170.
138. Oba 1985.
139. Knight 1974a, p. 61.
140. Bernus 1975a, p. 174.
141. Howes 1980, p. 346.
142. Richards 1980, pp. 184-186.
143. Biesele 1971, p. 63.
144. Richards 1975, p. 110.
145. Howes 1980, p. 337.
146. Richards 1975, p. 110.
147. Knight 1974a, p. 63.
148. Richards 1975, p. 106.
149. Richards 1975, p. 111; Howes 1980, p. 341.
150. Guillaumet 1972, p. 77.
151. Warren & Meehan 1980, p. 328.
152. Howes 1980, pp. 341-344.
153. Howes 1980, p. 341.
154. Brokensha & Riley 1980b, p. 266.
155. Johnson 1980, p. 64.
156. Warren & Meehan 1980, p. 328.
2.2.1 Herd management
2.2.2 Range management
2.2.3 Tree and shrub management
2.2.4 Hay and fodder production
2.2.5 Water management
2.2.6 Natural resources for food and medicine
The term management practices refers to the myriad, small and large, decisions taken on a daily basis by pastoralists in their use of natural resources. It goes beyond descriptive knowledge to what the pastoralist does with his store of accumulated knowledge - not just what he uses natural resources for, but also how. We are interested principally in his system of harvesting natural resources and how this affects the long term sustainability of the resources. By manipulating his livestock (such as changing herd sizes and structures, herding into one pasture and not another, etc.), by his mobility, monitoring, and in some instances manipulation of natural resources, and by respecting (or not) both formal social controls and common sense rules on the harvesting of herbs, trees, shrubs, water, hay, wild cereals, wildlife, and other resources, the pastoralist is showing his knowledge and experience of natural resource management.
The topic of livestock management, ranging from livestock breeding to daily milking techniques is wider than can be covered here. The discussion will be confined to those practices that directly or indirectly affect natural resources. These include certain production and herding techniques, the organization of herds, and labour requirements for livestock and range management.
The main objectives of pastoralists are not just increasing herd size, but also increasing milk yield, maintaining an appropriate herd structure, and ensuring disease resistance by breeding1. In addition, the priorities given to each goal is not a static one, and will change depending on the particular circumstances each household faces. For example, among the Somali, a young family with young children will try to maximize milk, while an older family with older children will try to maximize marketable slaughter animals². This can result in differential use of pastures, since a milk herd is often not allowed to graze far from the main camp, while a meat herd is taken to distant pastures.
In addition, the types of livestock raised by each household will depend on labour availability. For example, the Somali families of Bay region, who entrust small children with herding shoats, will probably not maintain shoats (even selling them if received as gifts or inheritance) if they do not have small children³.
Finally, production strategies such as seasonal calving for fattening and marketing, and calf-killing, can affect the population fluctuation in herds, and thus change stocking rates at any one point in time. For example, the Muslim practice of fattening rams for Tabaski, Eid al Kabir and Hajj, can increase the seasonal pressure on rangelands in the immediate vicinity of villages and settlements without any relation to ecological patterns since the Muslim calendar follows the lunar cycle. Some authors believe that these practices are detrimental to the range, and say, somewhat shortsightedly, that they should be stopped4. A better alternative is to find appropriate technical solutions to increase forage production during the fattening months.
The Somali sometimes practice pre-weaning slaughter of mostly male calves in order to save the life of the cow during drought or disease, or as a way to increase milk for human consumption5. Although the frequency of such a practice among the Somali and perhaps other groups is not known, it may result in higher offtake rates during times of stress and therefore, lower pressure on rangelands.
The organization of livestock into herds that graze together (a herding unit) can vary according to whether they belong to one household or several, and whether they are composed of the same types and ages of livestock or not. Each particular system is a function of the seasonal variation in pasture resources, as well as the size and type of herds. Individual or communal herding determines the concentration or dispersion of animals vis-a-vis natural resources, as well as the lowest institutional level in which basic resource management decisions are taken (see BOX 2.14).
Among the Zaghawa of Chad/Sudan, the livestock in a herd
belong to only one household, but herds tend to come together when they trek to
seasonal grazing areas, dispersing again once they arrive at the
pasture6, and the Tonga of Zambia herd their cattle either as
individual households, or a group of related households7. Most groups
with large numbers of livestock practice some form of communal herding, because
the tasks require at least 2-3 adults. Even groups with small numbers of
animals, especially most settled agropastoralists, such as the Wolof on the
Senegal River8, tend to prefer communal grazing (either by a hired or
local herder) so as to free labour for other agricultural tasks. The communal
herds can belong to a group of households in the same extended family, such as
among the Karamajong of Kenya9 and the Nyakyusa of southwestern
Tanzania10, or of the same clan, such as the Nuer of
Sudan11 and Rendille of Kenya12, or based on membership in
age-sets, such as the Kikuyu of Kenya13. In some cases, the communal
herds will come together at certain times of the year, especially for
ceremonies. The Rendille and Ariaal of Kenya have one of the most concentrated
herding units, since they are composed of 2-5 herding groups, each group made up
of several related households14.
Most groups will split their herd according to the type of livestock because of both forage and water requirements. The most common pattern is for cattle and/or camels to graze separately, while sheep and goats (shoats) are herded together, such as among the Somali in the dry season15, and the Rendille16, and Ariaal17 of Kenya. In most cases, the cattle and camels will be taken to distant pastures, while the shoats remain around the homestead, although exceptions do occur, such as among the Pokot who herd their shoats and camels near the homestead all year, but take their cattle on long distance transhumance18, or the Toucouleur agropastoralists of Senegal, who will allow both the cattle and shoat herds to graze separately around the homestead19.
Another form of herd splitting according to type of livestock is practiced among the Twareg of Niger in the dry season20, and the Zaghawa of Chad/Sudan Kall year round21. These groups split the herd so that camels and sheep graze together and cattle and goats are together. This forms a well-fitted complementarity since there is little dietary overlap between camels and sheep, and between cattle and goats.
The herd can also be split according to the productivity of the animals, ie. between the milk herd and the main herd. The former refers usually to the majority of the milking cows, camels, ewes and does, and their suckling young, and/or pregnant animals nearing the end of their gestation, who are kept close to the homestead. The main herd is composed of the remainder of the livestock and is usually the larger of the two, and is taken to distant pastures. Many pastoral groups practice this form of splitting, such as the Fulani of northern Senegal22, the Somali23, and the Dinka of Sudan24, although some agropastoralists, such as the Fulani of northern Burkina Faso25, also do so.
In some cases, the livestock are split into more than two herds according to several criteria: type, productivity, and age. Examples are the Turkana26, the Samburu27, the Macina, and the Diafaradji Fulani of the Niger River delta. The latter two may have up to 6 herds: 1) beydi, or new nursing/pregnant cows and old/weak sheep, kept at the village and herded by children; 2) tarancaradji, or the younger males and older females for sale or slaughter that are kept at the village but not necessarily herded; 3) njarniri, or the males of all animals for fattening and slaughter that are kept tied at stakes in the village; 4) bucal, or the rest of nursing cows and goats, herded in a reserved communal pasture; 5) bendi, same as bucal but includes only the hairy sheep, and 6) horey, or the surplus or main herd that goes on transhumance28.
Finally, the Turkana may also split the herds even further,
this time among wives living in different areas, each wife having some of all
types of livestock29. In general, those who do not split herds often
do not have enough livestock, or herders, or both. For example, the Wodaabe of
Niger will split their herd only if they have enough labour to do
Most agropastoralists will herd their livestock at least in
the wet season to protect their crops, for example the Fort Jameson Ngoni of
southeast Zambia34, but others, such as the Toucouleur of
Senegal35, do not herd their livestock at all except at the end of
the dry season when browse has to be cut down for them. They protect their crops
with fences and vigilant boys. Most non-cultivating transhumants herd their
livestock full time, although exceptions do occur. For example, among the
Zaghawa of Chad/Sudan, cattle are not herded except in the wet season (to avoid
crop damage to farmers) and if there are many predators, but shoats are always
herded for fear of predators and thiefs36. Because of labour
shortages, the Twareg of Niger, do not herd cattle in the dry season, not even
to water (they come to water every two days by themselves), and camels are taken
to pasture and left there for a week, then rounded up for watering, but sheep
are herded all the time37.
The ratio of herder to livestock varies considerably among
pastoralists, since it depends on whether the animals are communally or
individually herded, how large they are, and what the local conditions
(especially predators, or competition from crops or other herds) are. However,
some norms tend to be expressed and followed. For example, the Somali say that a
camel herd requires less labour for watering, but more labour for
trekking/herding, since it goes longer distances and moves more frequently than
cattle. They believe that one man can herd 20-30 camels, or 50 cattle, or one
child can manage 20 shoats40. Among the Fulani of central Nigeria, a
single herder is said to be able to manage 150 head, but it is preferable that
herd size be kept at 75-10041. In the Sudan, the Ingessana
agropastoralists have one herder to 25-30 cattle, the Fulani (relatively
newcomers to area) have 1 to 50-60, and the Rufa'a al-Hoi 1 to 100
The patterns of labour allocation for herding and divisions of labour by age and sex determine who are the basic decision makers - the actual managers - and thus, who controls the daily use of natural resources. In the majority of cases, men and/or boys are responsible for herding and caring for cattle or camels, while women and young girls are responsible for herding shoats, and milking all animals. Some examples are the Kikuyu agropastoralists46, Rendille pastoralists47, the Pokot48, and the Tonga of Zambia49. However, in some cases, women have more, or less, responsibility than this norm, and young boys may have full or partial responsibilities (see BOX 2.18).
In some cases, women are not allowed any contact with animals
except for milking, such as the Fulani of Nigeria50. In contrast,
among the Somali of Bay region, women are responsible for managing the shoats
and cattle because they and the children need and work with the milk; the actual
herding is done by girls and young boys, but the women take the major decisions.
Although Somali women are not assigned to herd camels, they will often herd
small camel groups without male assistance, or may travel with the men and help
them in herding and watering the camels51. Among many groups young
boys are often put in charge of smaller animals (such as shoats and calves)
while the men take care of the mature animals. Among the Samburu only older men
water animals because boys must preserve their energy for herding, and older men
can better control the animals that get excited52. In most cases, men
water livestock, but among the Turkana, the task is given to young
girls53. Some researchers state that young boys, (and presumably
girls), take less care in managing both the herd and the range54. Not
enough research has been done on the comparative success of management by men
vs. boys, and indeed women vs. men, to make a generalization at this
The role of women in herding livestock is an aspect that has long been neglected, mainly because of the assumption that men were responsible for livestock and women for cultivation. This dichotomy does not necessarily hold everywhere (as BOX 2.18 shows). The fact that Somali women prefer herding to farming, because they say it is less harsh on the body57, suggests that women may start to have a more important role in herding as men leave the pastoral economies for urban wages and other attractions. More studies need to be aimed in this direction. In particular, where women do have responsibility for herding, how independently do they act from the men, how do they secure grazing rights, and is their LKMS different from men's.
184.108.40.206 Range use: mobility, rotation and deferment
220.127.116.11 Range evaluation and monitoring
18.104.22.168 Range improvement
22.214.171.124 Social controls on range use
Most western educated range managers are under the mistaken impression that African pastoralists are not range managers - that they do not manage but simply use natural resources. This section will show that the African pastoralist, through his knowledge and manipulation of the resources at his disposal, is as much a range manager as the American and Australian rancher.
Pastoralists can be divided between those who's livestock have full or partial mobility, such as transhumants and settled agropastoralists who send their livestock on transhumance in the dry season, and those whose livestock graze all year round around the village. The latter either return to the village every night, or may camp on the periphery of the village pastures for short periods. The former differ in that they generally will move to more distant pastures, often traversing other peoples' territories to get there.
Almost all mobile groups practice some form of transhumance, ie. seasonal movement to regular pastures. Some, but not others, may have regular routes between the pastures, but almost all will have regular areas that they pasture in every normal year. The exact location used in an area will probably change from year to year, but not so much the wider land area. This also applies to nomads, who previously were thought of as being entirely opportunistic with no regular timing or location of movement patterns or pastures58.
The strategy of mobility is one of the most adapted and deliberate means of obtaining what livestock need in an ever-variable environment. It necessitates large areas of rangelands, which most groups obtain by a combination of territorial rights and alliances with neighbours (see section 2.3.2). There are many different types of mobility, and the particular strategy used by each stock owner at any point in time may differ from the norm for his own group, depending on labour availability, types and numbers of livestock, and environmental and social conditions (see BOX 2.19).
The mobility of pastoralists can be as varied as the
environment demands. The Wodaabe of Nigeria differentiate between many types of
mobility: spending the wet or dry season, going to dry or wet season areas,
returning from wet or dry season areas, moving about in a limited area,
out-migration proper, and migratory drift59. The latter refers to the
movement pattern where the territorial boundaries used by a group will gradually
shift over many generations (expanding, contracting, or moving laterally) in
response to ecological and political pressures. A good example is the Fulani who
have gradually moved across the Sahel over many centuries. The Somali of Bay
region use several different types of mobility: 1) the laal refers
to cases where the household has no extra labour and a small herd, in which case
it will keep calves at the village, allowing cows to graze unherded. The
disadvantages of such a strategy, such as losses due to straying, predation, and
theft, and less nutrition due to overgrazing around the household, are well
understood, and it is a technique that is frowned upon by those who have large
herds; 2) short transhumance during the rains and early dry season, returning to
the village to eat harvest residue; 3) long transhumance between different
ecological zones, where the herd and/or household is split up to meet the needs
of livestock and children's milk60.
The decisions taken daily by herders and stockowners continuously balance information and needs. Preferences for certain pastures are clearly expressed, e.g., the Wodaabe of Niger prefer areas where standing hay is leafy not stemmy and abundant, and choose water that is bitter not muddy63. However, ideal conditions are rarely found, and trade offs continuously have to be made:64 between pastures with good forage but bad water, and those with good water and bad forage; between using a heavily grazed but disease-free area or one that is rarely used but is infested with tse tse flies; between staying with others (for protection against predators) or striking out alone for fresh pastures; between reaching cropped fields in time for harvest or staying longer on good distant pastures.
The pastoralist acts at each point so as to make optimum use of what exists and what is expected.65 For example, among the Samburu, the problem of choosing between proximity salt licks or to good pasture in the dry season is resolved by considering herd size and type: shoats need more salt, so for a large flock camp is established at the salt lick, but if for a large herd of cattle camp is set up in the good pastures66.
The spatial organization of herds is based on two conflicting tendencies: the desire to be together for social, political and protection purposes, and the necessity to be apart for ecological reasons67. For example, the Wodaabe Fulani used to camp and pasture together all the time for common defence, but since Colonial pacification they have been able to disperse68 and use pastures never used before69. Among the Somali, certain sociopolitical factors can be important, e.g. managerial ability, character, reputation, wealthy, etc. of cooperating households and age-set rules, stock-friendships, and social obligations or vendettas70. The movements of people and livestock among the Turkana may depend on the advice of soothsayers predicting local disasters such as enemy raids or disease71.
In East Africa, the Maasai and Turkana will try to get to a
range before wildlife arrive72. The Maasai avoid camping where the
vegetation cover is greater than 10% because of predators and damage by large
mammals to korals and settlements. They also avoid camping on white soils
because they say that the temperature is colder and results in more stress for
livestock, decreasing milk production (formal scientists studying this
phenomenon agree, given the high reflectivity of white
Because of socio-political factors, movements will sometimes have to be made that do not benefit livestock or range resources (e.g. as recorded among the Somali78), but these movements tend to be temporary and not repeated from year to year, unless the underlying causes persist. Pastoralists are increasingly being forced to follow this latter strategy because of recent external changes in their social and environmental milieu (see section 4.0).
Mobility patterns, such as routes vs. pastures, concentration vs. dispersion, adjusting livestock pressure, deferment and rotation, frequency of movements, and drought vs. normal strategies, differ among groups depending on the criteria discussed above. Most transhumant groups performing long distance movements will distinguish sojourn pastures from access or transit pastures79, and will have specific rules on how to use both of them. For example, the Twareg of Niger follow regular routes, called tawshit, toward their salt licks80. The Zaghawa move their sheep and camels in the wet season north to Sahara pastures in separate parallel paths, leaving ungrazed a portion of the range for their way back south81. The Macina Fulani have transhumant routes for each sub-tribe, burti, which can be 100-200 miles long82. For those conducting livestock only short distances, the distinction between access and sojourn pastures may become blurred.
The pattern of concentration and dispersion of herds and camps varies. In some cases, there is concentration of herds in the dry season around a few permanent wells, and dispersion in the wet season, as among the Somali83 and the Maasai of Amboseli National Park84, while other groups will disperse in the dry season because of the lack of adequate forage, but concentrate in the wet season because of abundant grass and water, as among the Arab pastoralists of Central Chad85, and the Turkana86. Concentration and dispersion can also be determined by socio-political factors. For example, the Turkana, Fulani, Kababish, and Maasai have higher individual dispersion of herds compared to the Somali or North African Bedouins who are more restricted by communal lineage decisions87.
Some groups adjust the number of their livestock to the capacity of the land. In most cases, they will do so by sending the surplus livestock to neighbouring territories where they have alliances, such as among the Fulani of Nigeria, and split their herds even further, such as among the Twareg of the Gourma (Mali)88, rather than through deliberate slaughter and culling of livestock89. In the case of range overcrowding among the Tswana of Botswana, the traditional range overseers would appeal to the Kgotla (or communal gathering) to allocate more range land or to move some herds out of the area90.
Transhumance or movement between dry season and wet season pastures is a traditional form of pasture rotation and deferment91. The rotational strategies of pastoralists can be more efficient and complex than anything a rancher can do with his fences92. Such movements result in several simultaneous benefits: 1) dry season pastures are allowed a period of rest and growth during the wet season which maintains, and sometimes increases, the vegetation biomass, and wet season pastures if ungrazed during the dry season retain a good ground cover that protect the soil from the erosive first rains - both of these benefits maintain and may increase the carrying capacity; 2) wet season pastures often have abundant natural ponds, thus reducing the need for labour to water animals at least for part of the year; 3) in xeric zones, pastures allocated as wet season areas usually have higher quality and quantity forage in the wet season than the dry season, thus allowing livestock to take advantage of a resource at its highest potential (in mesic zones, the same is true for dry season pastures); and 4) a period of rest breaks the cycle of disease and parasites that tend to build up around dry season wells (see BOX 2.21).
Work done among the Kababish93, the
Rendille94, the Pokot and Turkana95, the Fulani of
northern Senegal96, and the pastoralists of the Algerian
steppes97, have highlighted complex rotational strategies. The Maasai
have elaborate grazing sequences (rotation and alternation), and will widen the
radius of pasturage and delay going into the dry season area by using donkeys to
transport water98. In Amboseli National Park, such a strategy has
been shown to increases the total carrying capacity by 50%99.
Except during a drought, the Pokot have wet season communal deferment of areas
with termite-resistant grass to allow good fodder for the dry
season100. The Fulani of northern Sierra Leone practice
shifting pasturage, where they over-graze one area with high
stocking rates for 2-3 years then move elsewhere and rest the first area for
15-20 years101. A similar phenomenon occurs among the Sukuma, who
live south of Lake victoria, and who allow a rest period of 30-50
Most rules about frequency of movements are informal rather than institutionalized. For example, during the wet season the Maasai's strategy of following the quality of forage (i.e. wherever forage is fresh-green, which also means high crude protein content) results in rotational use similar to that of wildlife103. The Somali don't stay more than a few weeks in the same pasture unless it is very good grass or hostility prevents movement104. But a few groups have more formal rules. For example, the Wodaabe use lunar cycles to move to new pastures, which in effect results in moving camp every 2-3 days, and moving out of an area every week. This system is common to all Fulani but the Wodaabe observe it more strictly105. However, such formal rules are also tempered by local circumstances. The herders closely monitor their environment and livestock for signs that indicate a need to move. For example, the Fulani say that if cattle begin to stampede, then the time to move on has already passed106.
The frequency of movements depends on the regions' level of resources, the season, and whether the herder is at the sojourn pastures or on the transit pastures. For example, the Wodaabe will be more mobile in the wet than in the dry season because of the need to vary the kind of forage eaten so as to avoid bloat and other nutritional problems107. With the beginning of the rains, the Twareg do not move long distances nor fast, but move frequently, because their animals have not regained their strength yet108. Such a strategy ensures even and light grazing at a time when the new grass needs all the time it can have to grow. The Rufa'a al-Hoi of the Sudan have two types of grazing: light grazing which is done when they are on transit pastures, and which leaves plenty of green matter behind for the return, and heavy grazing at the sojourn pastures109.
The frequency of movements can vary a lot between groups. For example, the norm among the Fulani of Niger is to change campsite every 204 days110, the Fulani of northern Nigeria say that they must move at least 4 times in a season so as to prevent over-use111, the main herd of the Samburu stays in one place a maximum of 2-3 weeks before moving on112, and the Jie and Turkana herds will make 5-10 major moves, and many smaller moves around the major camps113. The particular system is often determined by individual circumstances based on the monitoring of environmental indicators and usually results in a rotational pattern of use and rest which is fine-tuned to the needs of both animals and plants.
The net effect of most of these rotational strategies is to
cancel out grazing effects in the long run. A study among Afghani pastoralists
who have a similar system to most african long distance transhumants found no
correlation between the condition (health) of the range and distance to
water114. However, agropastoral systems that have considerably less
mobility than these fully transhumant systems, have fewer rotational strategies,
and are more likely to degrade the areas around their permanent
Many of these mobility strategies, designed for normal years, are not appropriate during drought years. Some drought strategies are designed to mitigate long term fluctuations, while others are crisis oriented solutions. For example, having large herds and high ratios of females in the herds help to ensure a minimum number of animals for survival during the drought, and fast reconstitution of the herd after the drought (see section 2.3.1). Crisis strategies include increased mobility and dispersion, using pastures that are normally reserved or communally protected, as among the Pokot118, using pastures that normally are not used due to disease, predators, and low nutritive value, changing the diet from predominantly milk to shoat meat119, going to neighbouring territories (in case of local, small scale droughts), by using tribal alliances, entering the urban or farming labour force, as among the Fulani of northern Senegal120, and the Moors and Fulani of Mauritania121, and sending family members to live temporarily with kinfolk in good places, as recorded among the Somali122. The choice of strategy depends on the remaining herd size, the rate at which the drought came and passed and its duration, alliances upon which the individual herder can call upon, proximity to urban centers, etc. etc. Drought strategies are meant to ensure the survival of the household unit. They may in some cases, such as increased mobility and dispersion, help to reduce stress on the already weakened plants, but usually the normal year strategies for protecting natural resources seem to break down during drought years. However, so little is known of the full range of resource sustaining traditional strategies, that it is unwise to conclude that there are no deliberate resource saving strategies during drought years.
All pastoralists have devised systems to help them evaluate the productivity of rangelands, from which they can calculate an approximate carrying capacity. The systems are based on monitoring detailed signs and indices of environmental health, stress, and change. These indicators can be individual plant species, soil types, tree cover, or the overall quantity and quality of the forage. The behavior of wildlife and their own domestic animals also help them judge the value of the lands they use. The evaluation of degraded pastures, and knowledge of the process of degradation, can also be quite detailed. Some indicators of degradation are milk yields, grass and browse availability, and presence of particular plant and wildlife species (see BOX 2.23).
Systematic monitoring of environmental changes in climate, and
quality and quantity of forage helps the herders take advantage of green flushes
of forage, or to avoid overcrowded areas123. Even from a distance the
Wodaabe herder can judge the intensity and significance of greenness of a
pasture. He will also monitor the feces of livestock, milk yield, animal weight,
and the number of cows in heat, to tell him about how well animals eat, and
therefore the quality and quantity of forage124. A very thorough
study of traditional environmental indicators has been done among the Fulani of
Mauritania. They evaluate the quantity of forage by looking at the density and
height of grasses and herbs, the portion of land covered by each pasture type,
and the tree cover, and compare all of this with the need of livestock on the
pasture. They evaluate the quality of range through 1) soil type and capability
for each type of pasture; 2) presence or absence of individual forage species,
and their palatability to different livestock; 3) degree of greenness of forage;
4) presence or absence of wildlife, for example good pastures also support
gazelles, hyenas, lions, wild boars, etc., while the ones that have elephants,
giraffe, ostrich, are good only in the dry season because of excessive humidity
and disease; and 5) behavior of domestic animals, e.g. a good pasture is
indicated by cattle who eat with good appetites, are not restless at night,
sleep on their right side (full stomach not pressed), breathe slow but deeply,
have beautiful skin and hair, are not rushing to pasture in the morning, do not
need to be forcefully restrained during the morning milking, increased number of
females in heat, and feces are wet, not friable, and have little undigested
matter. When going into a new, unknown pasture, the Fulani herder will take the
animals to pasture for 7 consecutive days in each of four major directions, and
will compare the pastures by evaluating the effect on the animals125.
The Fulani know that vegetation changes can be caused by overgrazing, drought,
bush fires, etc., but say that droughts cause the greatest change126.
There are also many indicators for monitoring the degradation of pastures. The
Maasai and Wodaabe look at milk yields127, and the Samburu observe
grass and browse availability128. Among the Fulani of Mauritania,
degraded pastures are indicated by Cassia occidentalis and Calotropis
procera, and the presence of vividly coloured
The success of a monitoring system relies not only on careful tracking by each herder, but also the constant exchange of the information between herders. Among the Saudi Arabian Bedouins, there is continuous communication among section chiefs about grazing and water conditions, especially the type of plants, biomass, water availability and presence of other people. This information is obtained from travellers, scouts, couriers from other chiefs, etc.132 Similarly, among the Fulani information is collected from fellow herders and other local people, the literate, the elders and notables, outsiders who visit, traders, etc.133.
Without range evaluation and monitoring, the pastoralist is not able to adjust his strategies to the short and long term availability of natural resources. Much more work is needed on what indicators pastoralists use to evaluate the present status or condition of rangelands, and also their expectations of what the future trends will be.
Range improvement, as taught in formal science, includes such interventions as range reseeding, bush clearing, fertilizing, water development, etc. Except for a few techniques, such as bush fires, shrub clearing, and water development, most pastoralists do not improve the range deliberately, but sustain it in the long run by having a diverse portfolio of livestock, appropriate breeds, and mobility strategies.
In general very little study has been done on traditional range improvement techniques. It may be that such techniques, apart from the ones discussed below, do not exist because the need for range improvement has only recently come up, and pastoralists have not had the time, nor the opportunity, to experiment with new techniques on a trial and error basis134.
Bush fires are usually set deliberately to obtain green regrowth from perennial grasses, to clear the dead biomass (in order to reduce the chances of more serious fires, to obtain higher production next season, and to make it easier for people and livestock to walk through and to detect predators and raiders), to eradicate disease vectors, and to stop bush encroachment. Pastoralists will also take advantage of fires that are accidental or set by hunters and bee gatherers, and some groups have systems for preventing undesirable fires (see BOX 2.24).
By far the greatest use of bush fires is to obtain green regrowth from perennial grasses. The Dinka of Kongor Rural Council burn at least 80% of the toich or temporary swamp lands every year to get regrowth, to make it easy to walk through area, and to be secure against predators and raids by Murle pastoralists. These fires are deliberately set early in the dry season only. The Dinka will wait 15 days before grazing the burned areas, even though regrowth appears after a few days135. By contrast the neighbouring Nuer, who also burn the Sudd swamps in the early-mid dry season, will graze it only 3 days later136. The Fulani of Burkina Faso know that fire is only good for perennial grasses, and that it keeps trees in check137. Some other groups who have been recorded to set fires to obtain regrowth are the Pokot138, and the Fulani who herd the livestock of the Bambara139. The Fulani of southern Burkina Faso say that they no longer practice bush burning, because the advent of the drought has reduced the quality of regrowth140.
The Wodaabe of Nigeria set fires only at the beginning of the dry season, and only after having grazed the pasture, to reduce the potential fuel and to enhance the quantity and quality of biomass in the following year141. Whether fires actually do increase herbaceous biomass productivity is a matter of considerable debate within formal science, but there are increasing number of studies that support it. The Boran and Gabra142, and the Maasai143 of northern Kenya burn pastures to prevent encroachment of non-palatable bushes.
Some groups have systems for controlling the use of fires. The
Fulani of Mali monitor the area for unwanted bush fires, and after bringing it
under control, will punish the person who set it by forcing him to feed
everyone144. The Fulani of northern Senegal use a system of small
preventive fires to create a grid of fire breaks to protect camps from wild
Some traditional practices have implications for introducing modern range improvement techniques. For example, the Lozi King of present-day Zambia can call together his subjects for public works, such as building canals, an action that could theoretically extend to other communal improvements148. The Maasai see grass as a gift of God via the mediation of rain, and they often use grasses in pastoral rituals. Cultivators are especially hated because they plough up the grass149, so would the Maasai be adverse to range reseeding, which often involves ploughing and seed broadcasting?
At a general level, most if not all pastoral societies regulate their movements according to seasonal use150. The previous sections showed that at the particular level, pastoral strategies can be complex and involve formal and informal rules. Formal rules generally tend to be enshrined in communal codes and traditions, and recognized by all members of the group. These rights and regulations are often created and enforced by fairly complex internal organizations at several levels. These are: the herding unit, a group of herding units or the entire tribe, and the inter-tribal level. Many herding units have clear cut internal organizations for assigning chores and making communal decisions. These include scouts to patrol and monitor the rangelands for pasture quality and quantity, a headman and a council of elders, and regular daily or weekly meetings among all household heads (see BOX 2.25).
Almost all pastoral groups have scouts who go ahead of the herd to monitor the range and to evaluate its quality, quantity and suitability for livestock. They will also report on disease, presence of other herds, and other information necessary for communal decisions. Some examples are the Rufa'a al-Hoi of eastern Sudan151, the Somali nomads152, and the Wodaabe of Nigeria, where the scouts are on horseback153.
Communal decisions are usually taken by a council of elders
headed by a chief or elder statesman. The chief is often elected on the basis of
his success in herd management, which is evident in the large number of
livestock that he has. For example, the chief shepherd of the Macina
Fulani is usually the largest owner elected from among the
villagers154. But the chief has to have other important qualities.
For example, the Dinka say that their elected headman (bany de wut)
has to be an arbiter, chairman, planner and enforcer of decisions. He is
assisted by the bany de biok who manages daily affairs, such as
assigning communal chores, including herding155. The Wodaabe have a
council (kinnal) twice a day which is led by a leader
(ardo), and which discusses the information supplied by scouts and
makes decisions on communal movements. Although the elders are respected and
listened to, it is the opinion of young adults - the actual herders - which
carries the most weight156. In the Maasai herding unit,
enkang, there is no leader but a council of elders that decides on
range management strategies every day, and assigns duties to herders and
supervisors of herders157. Among the Tswana of Botswana, the chief
appoints several modisa or overseers of common land, who are
responsible for reporting on whether decisions were being respected by members
of the community and if the range was being overused158.
Herding units will at times join together into larger cooperating groups. This usually occurs in favourable seasons, and for socio-cultural reasons. During these times, usually a coordinating council made up of the elders of each herding unit will form to make communal decisions. In other cases, herding units will not necessarily join together but will follow the communal decisions laid down by a main chief either on a year-round basis, or at specific times and places (see BOX 2.26).
Cooperation among herding units is often assured by a committee formed when the units come together on a seasonal basis, or all year round by a main council or chief. For example, among the Somali, social events are subordinate to ecological considerations, since large ceremonies are held only when and where there is enough pasture and water to support all attendants for the days required161. The same phenomena has been reported among the Wodaabe162 and the Maasai163.
Year round coordination among herding units is often ensured by a higher level authority and set of rules. It can be a set of general controls over rangeland use or specific rules for using certain pastures or transit routes. For example, sets of laws and procedures have been recorded among the Twareg of Gourma, the Berti of Sudan164, and the Somali nomads who call theirs the gariyo xeer165. The II Chamus of Kenya have a council of elders that enforces the grazing controls (olokeri) and coordinates movements of herding units through the members of the II Murran age set (i.e. the 18-30 year old males)166. The Saudi Arabian camel Bedouins have a well defined order in which each tribal section can use an area, with enough time in between the passage of each section to allow the growth of annual forage plants. The selection of grazing area within a section is done in the chief's tent among leading men of the section167. The Berbers of Morocco have a chief of grass, amghar n'tuga, who is an elder selected by the council of elders, and who makes final decisions concerning common grazing, such as the timing and location of movements, deferring grazing, and granting permission to outsiders168. Among the Tswana major decisions affecting a village and its several herding units, including allocation of grazing land, were made at the kgotla169, and an overseer (modisa), was responsible for checking conditions of the rangeland assigned to each section, conferred with chiefs to move livestock if an area became overstocked, and allocated well digging sites and cattle posts according to a set of rules designed to avoid overgrazing170.
Apart from general all-year regulations, some social controls also were placed on certain times and places. The most renowned example is probably that of the Dina Code of the Macina Fulani. This Code regulated the movements of the Fulani and Twareg tribes into and out of the delta zone of the Niger River. Before all herds and flocks could re-enter the delta in the early dry season, they would have to congregate at the border of the delta, waiting for the leader to permit them to cross171. Other less well-known regulations also exist. For example, among the Tallensi of northeastern Ghana/southwestern Burkina Faso, only the chief has the right to set fire to bushland because of the danger of accidents172. Among the Rufa'a al-Hoi of Sudan, the tribal chief, nazir, with his deputy, wakil, confer with the sheikhs of the herding camps in order to coordinate the movement south at the end of rains. The coordinated movement is designed to avoid conflicts with the sedentary population and allow the farmers to finish harvesting the crops173. Finally, the Lozi king of northwestern Zimbabwe would decide the date when cattle and people would have to leave the flooded area for higher ground174.
Coordination among herding units does not occur in all cases.
For example, the basic cooperating unit among Arab pastoralists of central Chad
is the herding group (ferik) which is about 20 families, whose
composition changes from year to year depending on marriages, alliances, etc.
But even when the feriks group together in the rainy season, there is no higher
level cooperation in range management other than the
Informal rules, or principles of common sense, can be found among all pastoralists. Some rules tend to be common to all groups, for example, first come first serve, which applies to the use of particular pastures or camp sites. Pastoralists tend to avoid areas already in use, and will keep at a certain distance of others, although studies tend to be vague about what this minimum distance is, and how it varies with resource stress. In addition, they will avoid areas just recently vacated by others, but the time allowed to elapse before a campsite or pasture is reoccupied again varies among the groups. Other informal rules concern the timing and intensity of use of pastures, concentration and dispersion following the availability of resources, and what to do about outsiders who use one's pastures (see BOX 2.27).
The Fulani way is the overriding value that
ensures good husbandry among the Fulani so that rangeland productivity can be
sustained for the next generations. To violate these norms is to bring disease
and misfortune to the herd and family179. The Twareg and Fulani
prefer areas that have no signs of trampling180, which tends to
represent a longer rest period for the range than the Dinka of Abyei, who avoid
areas with moderate to high amounts of cattle feces181. The Saudi
Bedouins leave the pastures before they have been eaten out or completely
trampled down182. The Turkana say that less persistent pastures
should be utilized first, and more persistent pastures should be reserved until
the worse times of the year when the pastures are more or less
exhausted183. The Twareg follow an informal rule that those with
large herds must go further from the water point than those with small
herds184. Most pastoralists will follow the rule to disperse if
resources are scarce185. The Fulani say that to better feed your
livestock, you must isolate yourself186. The Fulani will also
disperse in the wet season so as to use up the fresh growth better and to reduce
the effects of trampling187. Most pastoralists will not deny
outsiders access to both water and pastures (see section 2.3.2). But many,
including the Turkana, will deny them access only in times of extreme pasture
stress, although it is considered bad form to do so188.
126.96.36.199 Harvesting trees and shrubs
188.8.131.52 Regeneration of trees and shrubs
184.108.40.206 Protection of trees and shrubs
Our knowledge of what trees and shrubs are used for among pastoralists, is much greater than our understanding of when, how, and to what degree they are harvested, regenerated and protected. Conventional knowledge has it that pastoralists are either careless or deliberately destroy trees and shrubs, but in many cases some recent and not so recent studies show the contrary.
Woody species are used by pastoralists for browse, fuelwood, constructing houses, corals and fences, and other minor uses, such as food, medicine, shade, etc. In some cases, harvesting for browse has been shown to be destructive to the plants, but there are many other instances of the existence of formal and informal rules for protecting the plants against abuse (see BOX 2.28).
Many studies report on what trees and shrubs are used for, but not how they are harvested. The few studies that record harvesting techniques show that, with a few exceptions, most groups tend to harvest in such a way as to avoid destroying the plants. One of the exceptions is Fulani pastoralists, some of whom have been known to coppice trees for browse, tannin, tools and medicine, by cutting half way through the branch, then pulling down, which results in the bark being pulled off and reduces chances of bud regeneration from the affected area189. Deliberate or careless misuse of trees and shrubs seems to occur more frequently when one is outside one's own territory. For example, in central Mali, the Fulani hired herders of the Bambara will coppice trees for the livestock, but it is the nomadic Fulani and the Moors that do most of the damage190.
Instances where formal and informal rules exist to enhance the
productivity or protect trees and shrubs against abusive browsing have been
recorded among a few groups. The Pokot and Turkana of Kenya are selective in how
they coppice trees. Rarely will they deliberately cut a valuable tree down, and
only less useful bushes will be cut back in order to make fences and to reduce
bush encroachment on the range191. The Lahawin of eastern Sudan shake
down the leaves for their small stock with special sticks rather than cutting
down branches, but recently outsiders and merchants are cutting down the
trees192. The Kel Adrar Twareg of Kidal (Mali) have traditional
prohibitions against cutting trees (although the author provides no more
details)193. After coppicing Parinaria curatellifolia, the
Mbeere of Kenya leave it to rest for a season or two to
regenerate194. The Dina Code of the Macina Fulani had provisions for
policing the bush for unauthorized coppicing of trees for browse195.
Finally, the people of northern Burkina Faso, will periodically prune the
Acacia albida in their fields to enhance its
Among the Pokot and Turkana only dry and dead wood is collected for fuel. Trees have important roles in their culture. For example, people are named after trees, trees are used in almost all rituals, and meetings are held under them, thus they think twice about cutting them down198. In Gopeshwar (in the Himalayan region of Uttar Pradesh, India) only one member of each household is allowed to collect fuelwood once a week in order to conserve the communal supply199, however, such a formal organization has not yet been recorded among pastoralists in Africa.
According to the Gabra tradition (aada), Salvadora persica, which is used for many other products, should not be used for fuelwood, and live wood should not be cut for fuel. The Gabra are conservative in their use of fuelwood, and will not let a fire burn needlessly, saving unburned logs for another time. Only live wood is used for making huts and corals, but some special buildings can only be made out of certain species, and wood for poles of houses can only be collected at certain ritually prescribed times of the year200, although it is not clear whether these times have any correlation with the phenological stage of the trees.
Among the southern Turkana of northern Kenya fuelwood use has
been estimated at 1.14 kg/capita/day, entirely made up of dead wood, but wood
for constructing houses and corrals which is done every time they go to a new
camp, is 2.76 kg/capita/day of wood. Construction wood is live wood but usually
the small trees of abundant species are used and although some trees are only
pruned, others are completely used and killed. This area is sparsely populated
and the main pastoral strategy of dispersion and frequent movement of camps is
still possible. Thus, the use of fuelwood and construction wood use is brief and
localised with long rests in any given area, and it does not appear to have
reduced regional wood supplies201.
The regeneration of shrubs, either through seed germination or cuttings, is very rarely discussed by research studies among pastoralists, and there are more reports that speak of pastoralists lacking than having some form of regeneration practice. Where they have been recorded, regeneration techniques can be either passive protection of seedlings, or active germination and/or propagation (see BOX 2.30).
Some groups, such as the Turkana, do not seem to see a connection between tree planting and tree use, and do not traditionally plant trees, nor even protect seedlings204, although it is not clear whether this conclusion is due to the interview technique or not. The practice of frequent movement of camps among pastoralists often results in higher tree germination on the campsites since the seeds scarified by passage through the digestive system of livestock, and taking advantage of the high organic fertilizer on the sites, seem to germinate better205, and once mature, are often protected by the next camp who use it for shade and as foundations for their huts. Many groups, especially agropastoralists, are known to protect spontaneously germinated seedlings in their fields, for example, the protection of Acacia albida among many West Africans, such as the people of northern Burkina Faso206, and protection of Melia volkensii by the Mbeere of Kenya207. However, such passive regeneration techniques are often the first to disappear once a shortage of natural resources begins.
Most groups have a clear knowledge of the germination
requirements of different species, and know how to germinate them if need
be208, but records of actual tree and shrub regeneration through
seeds have not been found among pastoralists. Regeneration by cuttings or
transplanting naturally germinated seedlings, however, have been recorded. The
former occurs among the Gabra and Boran of northern Kenya. They build live
fences, with a 50% survival rate, by putting wet dung in the hole where a tree
or shrub cutting is placed209. The latter has been recorded among the
Lozi of Zimbabwe who mark the graves of their kings and other royal people
(sacred groves) with trees collected and transplanted from the surrounding
The protection of trees and shrubs in particular, rather than all natural resources in an area, seems to take two forms among pastoralists: prohibition and restriction on the use of some highly valued individual species, and the protection of all trees and shrubs in sacred groves. In West Africa, over forty species of trees are preserved on farmland, in densities less than 40 trees/ha, by both agropastoralists and farmers. Four species dominate the list: baobab (Adansonia digitata), karite, Parkia biglobosa, and Acacia albida211. In East Africa, the Gabra and Boran ritually protect trees in sacred groves and shrines, and prohibit cutting of valuable mature species, such as Acacia tortilis212. The Turkana protect important trees, such as A. tortilis, Hyphaena coriaca, Cordia sinensis, Ziziphus mauritiana, Dobera glabra, and A. albida213. The trees, shrubs and herbs in sacred groves are in all recorded cases protected from being harvested (see section 2.3.3.). The Kikuyu of southern Mount Kenya, however, will allow cuttings to be taken from sacred trees to propagate other sacred trees214.
The protection of trees and shrubs among pastoralists should not be seen as equivalent to the conservation ethic of western environmentalists - pastoralists usually do not have much use for the climax stage of vegetation succession - but as protecting a resources for future use, and sustaining its maximum long term productivity.
Fodder production, ie. cultivating plants specifically and only for forage, has not been found among pastoralists. Our discussion does not include the residue of many cultivated crops that are given to livestock. There are two main constraints to planting forage crops: 1) it is hard to find suitable species that give high yields enough to support all or an economically significant proportion of livestock in arid zones, and 2) the work must be done in the wet season when there usually is a labour shortage215. Thus pastoralists often find that the forage available on rangelands, even the low quality biomass in the dry season, is on the balance better than cultivating fodder.
On the other hand, there are many recorded cases of hay and browse collection, ie. cutting standing herbaceous biomass and leaves and fruits from trees and shrubs. But the scale of such operations is often quite small, since labour shortages and the relatively low density of plants, oblige the gatherers to cover a large area to collect adequate amounts. Usually enough is collected to feed the calves that are left at the homestead, the draft oxen, special cows, horses, and animals intended for fattening and slaughter. Hay collection is either done at the end of the rainy season, or anytime during the dry season, and the hay is either collected daily in small quantities and fed daily, or collected in large quantities and stored for later use. In most cases the hay is cut in communal rangelands, but in a few cases, private or communal enclosures are set up and the hay collected at prescribed times of the year (see BOX 2.31).
Hay and browse collection is usually done on a small scale for special livestock, especially newly delivered cows, draft oxen, and calves. Some examples are the Fulani of Nigeria216, and the Wodaabe Fulani217. The children of agropastoralists, such as the people of southeast Burkina Faso, usually are given the role of gathering hay for calves218. Some Zaghawa villagers collect hay and store it in trees219. In northern Nigeria, the Hausa cut hay from small swamps and depressions in the wet season for feeding to tethered animals220. The Somali will collect the fruit of a tree (Dobera spp.) and hand feed it to their special animals221.
The fruits and leaves of trees and shrubs are considered as high value fodder, and are usually collected only for animals intended for slaughter. For example, the Toucouleur women of Bakel area harvest Pterocarpus lucens to feed to rams intended for the Tabaski feast222. The Macina Fulani women fatten the njarniri, or male animals intended for slaughter by individually tying them to stakes and feeding supplements made up of the leaves of Ipomoea spp, Khaya senegalensis, P. lucens and 9 other species, plus salt and crop residues and by-products223.
Hay collection seems to be more widespread in north Africa
than elsewhere in Africa. For example, the Jeffara herders of southern Tunisia
(bordering on the Sahara), will cut hay (more in drought than in normal years)
from special pastures khortan for their shoats224. In the
same area people harvest herbaceous fodder in the spring to supplement the diet
of shoats in the late summer225. Recently in some cases hay and
browse are collected on privately enclosed rangelands. Some Fulani
agropastoralists living on the fringe of the Niger River delta in Mali create
private enclosures on the bourgou grasses, and cut the hay at
regular intervals for their draft oxen and other special animals226.
Some of the settled Baggara pastoralists of south Darfur will make small,
private (illegal) enclosures on the rangeland and cut the hay for special
animals, milking cows, donkeys and horses. Usually an extended family will have
the right to the hay227. Another form of enclosed hay has been
recorded among the Somali of Bay region, where small herd owners hand feed a few
of their livestock with a grass weed that grows in cropland (scientific name
unknown); by hoeing morning and afternoon, a single adult can harvest enough of
this grass to keep about 4 adult cattle alive228.
220.127.116.11 Management of natural ponds
18.104.22.168 Water harvesting techniques
22.214.171.124 Well management
126.96.36.199 Other water resources
The availability of water for both human and livestock use is a continual preoccupation among pastoralists the world over. In general, African pastoralists use natural ponds in the wet season, gradually switching over to shallow wells as the ponds dry up, and then going to permanent deep wells towards the end of the dry season. The management of water resources, whether ground or surface, includes using and excavating natural ponds, creating dams, digging wells, tapping natural springs, timely consumption of water-bearing plants, and developing means for storing water. These are often the first improvements made on rangelands by pastoralists.
The distribution of water points, and the timing of their use, have direct impact on the condition and productivity of range plants. In many parts of Africa, vast areas of rangelands are underutilized because of the lack of adequate water, while the areas around water points can be heavily grazed. There is no record yet of a formal pastoral system where a minimum distance between water points (especially in terms of digging new wells) is formally imposed by the society. However, among the Somali, each clan or lineage will try to distribute the wells it owns over the entire range, to cover as large a range area, and as diverse a resource base, as possible229.
The timing of use of water points is a function of the season and the needs of each type of livestock. Some watering techniques of livestock do not affect range resources, for example, the Wodaabe always water calves first230, and the Zaghawa do not allow sick animals close to wells231. However, other techniques can have an impact on rangelands. For example, in the dry season, the Zaghawa will water their camels once a week, sheep every 3 days, and cattle every other day232, which, compared to daily watering, increases the diameter of rangeland that can be used, and reduces overgrazing around water points. The Maasai deliberately water cattle every other day in the wet season so as to accustom them to the every other day watering that is necessary in the dry season233. This practice helps to increase mobility and dispersion during the wet season, which usually is beneficial to range plants.
Water collecting in small or large depressions can vary according to size, siltation characteristics, imperviousness of the bed, water quality, degree of tree cover which affects water evaporation, and watershed characteristics that affect runoff rates and quantities. Except for very large depressions, such as the Sudd and parts of Lake Chad, and rivers that dry progressively into a chain of ponds, most natural ponds in arid and semi-arid zones do not outlast the dry season. However, some pastoral groups improve the pond's capacity by excavating the silt. For example, the Borana of Ethiopia, clean out the silt, and place a thorn fence around the pond to protect its slopes234. The Dinka of Kongor excavate natural ponds along river beds which are then fenced off and if small covered by a reed mat235.
Natural ponds can loose their quality fast toward the end of their life and especially when livestock have trampled in them. Some groups will reserve certain ponds, especially smaller and nearby ones, for human use, for example the Fulani of northern Senegal236. Pastoralists also have water cleaning techniques. For example, the Twareg dig small holes in natural ponds and place the soil of termite mounds in them to precipitate most impurities237. The Fulani of northern Senegal add the bark of Boscia senegalensis mixed with termite mound soil, acidified curdled milk, and salt to pond water for human use238.
The building of small barrages and dams has been observed among a few pastoral groups. Hafirs or small stone walled barrages are common in northern Sudan, Somalia, and among the Zaghawa of Chad239. Unfortunately not much has been written on their management (organization of the construction and management tasks, design and location, etc.). The use of surface catchment basins appears to be more widespread in North Africa and elsewhere than Sub-Saharan Africa. For example, in Tunisia many different types of water harvesting systems are used to irrigate crops and forage, to recharge aquifers, and create stock ponds and reservoirs240. The Bedouins of the Arabian peninsula traditionally built horse-shoe shaped and low stone barrages in such a way as to maximize water storage, and minimize evaporation and muddiness241. In Pakistan a water spreading technique for irrigating crops involved a series of low dams built on a zigzag pattern, and barrages with stone-masonry cisterns were made in 800 A.D. on the road between Mecca and Baghdad for pilgrims, but the design appears to be too expensive to replicate now242.
Wells vary according to the depth of the aquifer, and the geological strata. Shallow wells are dug in sandy river beds and are deepened as the dry season progresses. These wells are destroyed every year by the river water, and have to be redug at the beginning of the dry season. The knowledge of where to locate wells, already discussed in section 2.1.2, is used to find good quantities and qualities of ground water. For example, the Turkana only dig river wells in those areas where the drainage line has a sandy stretch that is water-bearing, and differentiate between small drainage lines and large ones that have small or long stretches of sand243. The Boran of Kenya dig wells usually right next to a deep tap-rooted tree, without damaging the tree; thus the roots of the tree help to stabilize the well wall, the tree provides shade for workers, and the people help the tree by irrigating it (inadvertently) with spilt water244.
A few groups have formal organizations to control and manage communal wells. These usually consist of a committee or overseeing council and a head manager who appoints deputies, allocates tasks (guarding, maintaining, digging, etc.) among the users of wells, and determines the conditions under which outsiders can use them (see BOX 2.32).
Among the Wodaabe of Niger, wells are owned by lineage
segments, but others are allowed to use them according to strict rules
(buto). In addition, the dry season camps are dispersed and as tar
away as 70 km, and are moved every 20-30 days around the well, to avoid
overgrazing245. The northern Somali manage communal wells through an
elected committee of 3-20 people, called guddiya warta. The members
of the committee are the water managers, sagaale, who allocate water
to the community and guests, guard the well, enforce and devise rules of use,
charge fees if any, and maintain the well246. The Borana of southern
Ethiopia have an elected elder of the clan, abba ela, who supervises
the well according to Borana laws. A council of elders supervises the Abba ela,
and appoints a caretaker if the Abba ela is temporarily absent. The users of the
well also form a council, Cora ela who have ultimate authority over
the Abba ela and the council of elders. A father of the watering
order appointed by the Cora ela regulates daily use of the well by
appointing two men to supervise the livestock, a man to sweep and clean out the
dung, a man to coordinate the action of the line of men and women (also chosen
by the father of order) who draw water with containers and pass it along to a
basin. This line can be 15-20 persons long. The basins are plastered with clay
every morning, and the well maintained after every rainy
With the advent of deep, mechanized boreholes, the traditional systems for well management have been disrupted, but not in all cases. Some groups actually prefer to return to their traditional wide-diameter wells, for example, the Rendille of Kenya prefer large diameter wells because they do not break down and have more minerals than boreholes249. A survey by the Service de l'Animation of Niger in 1972 among the Twareg, Fulani and Arabs showed that they prefer cemented wide-diameter wells to boreholes, because the former limit overstocking, are easier to learn about and maintain, and cause less weight loss in animals (since the rangelands are not overgrazed)250.
The pastoralists and hunter-gatherers have other means of manipulating their water resources. The storage or transport of water allows them to go further away from water points, thus dispersing grazing pressure and allowing the use of distant pastures. For example, the Hamar of western Sudan store water in the hollowed trunks of the baobab during the dry season251. As already mentioned, the Turkana transport water on donkeys to their camps, both for human and animal use. Recently the Somali have started to truck water to distant pastures from boreholes or hafirs, so as to extend the grazing area252.
Hunters and gatherers tend to rely more on water-bearing plants than pastoralists. For example, the Ghana foragers of central Kalahari use a local melon as water for themselves and their livestock. If the melons run out before the end of the dry season, they subsist on other water-rooted species or travel 115 km north to a major river253.
Natural springs are rarely modified by pastoralists. However, in one case, that of the Fulani of northern Cameroon, the herders will improve their access to the high quality, mineral water, by digging a shallow well, called lahore, where ever they see bubbles, and lift the water into wooden troughs. Since the area is inundated by floods each year, the location of the best springs tends to vary from year to year. The government recently has tried to put in permanent wells and cemented troughs but the pastoralists don't like them because they can't be moved each year to the best source, and animals can't swim or wallow in the water which, the Fulani say, is good for them254.
Plants, wildlife, and fish resources are also used for purposes other than for livestock, fuel, and construction material by pastoralists. These include food and medicine. Very little is written about the management of resources for these uses. Most ethnobotanical studies tend to report on what the plants are used for, or in some rare cases255, on what impact the plant collection has on the plants, but not on how they are harvested, when, where, by whom, how often, etc. etc.256.
The collection of plants for food is usually not as important a component of pastoral diets as milk and meat. Some groups, such as the Gabra of northern Kenya, who collect only 17 wild plant species for food, do not consider wild foods to be important257. But it does provide them with a supplement, a relish, and an emergency resource during times of drought or economic stress. In these cases it is of a temporary nature and rarely accompanied by formal organizational structures. On the other hand, some pastoral groups rely more heavily on wild plants, collecting them regularly either for home consumption or for sale. In these cases, the collection is often communal and involves strict rules for protecting the wild grasses. These rules cover the frequency of collection, territorial boundaries, and prohibition of livestock and other users into the area. The collection of wild fruits from trees and shrubs has already been discussed. Wild cereal collecting is often the domain of women, either collectively or individually, especially as an economic activity. The techniques for harvesting the grains will vary according to the group and the phenological stage of the plant. Some other groups actually cultivate wild plants for their grain or other products (see BOX 2.33).
The Kel Adrar Twareg Kidal (Mali) have traditional provisions for protecting wild grasses used for human food (although details are not available)258. One factor determining pastoral movements, at least among the Twareg of northern Burkina Faso, is the location of wild plants for human use. They regularly use the In Daki area to gather the lotus bulb for human consumption so that they can save their millet store for later in the dry season259.
The Twareg of Niger regularly harvest wild cereals on their way from the wet to the dry season pastures260. The grains, given the generic name of ishiban, include Panicum laetum and Echinochloa colona. The women do most of the gathering, and will often go together in groups of 5 or 6 and stay a week in the bush, harvesting grains and other products, such as fruits, gum arabic, and special branches for beds. They have three techniques for harvesting the grains: 1) when the seed is still on the inflorescence but ready to fall, they harvest early in the morning so that the dew on the seed prevents it from being dispersed and scattered. A deep, cone-shaped, recipient is used to harvest the grain. 2) Before seed fall, the grass is cut, like domesticated cereals, and left to dry, then threshed and winnowed. 3) After the seed has fallen the standing biomass is cut or burned so that the seeds can be swept off the ground. Burning the biomass means a worse taste to the grain, but is easier work, therefore it is a matter of choice. The swept grains, mixed with soil and pebbles, is less desirable and fetches a lower price in the market. 4) The Twareg slaves will also take seeds from termite mounds: from the central storehouse in normal years, but down to the subterranean storehouses during droughts. The Twareg will usually harvest just what they need for that day or week, thus they rarely use fires, unless they are collecting a whole season's store, or a large amount for sale261. It is not clear what the impacts of these harvesting techniques among the Twareg are on the long term sustainability of the wild cereals.
The Wodaabe of Niger also gather wild cereals, but will usually buy from the Twareg in exchange for tobacco (which they buy from southern farmers, but do not consume themselves)262. The Dirong and Guruf tribes of Chad break open ant hills to take the grain during droughts. They can collect as much as 130 kg of seeds (a camel load) during a day263.
The Zaghawa women, like the Turkana women264, gather wild cereals mostly for food, and some for sale. The Zaghawa spend 1-2 months where the cereals grow, and return with 3-4 camel loads of grains. Harvest are either individual or collective, and are started in August and gathered at intervals of 15-30 days. The subsequent harvests are usually smaller than the first. The women will mentally mark off their individual areas, and cut and leave the grains to dry. They cover the harvest with thorn against goats, and a symbolic stone that represents each woman's clan, against theft. Herders are not allowed to lead livestock into these cereal-growing areas until after the grain harvest, and are fined if they do. It appears that the gathering actually helps maintain a good stand of wild cereals, because non-useful plants (especially Cenchrus biflorus) are taking over the areas where gathering is no longer practiced265.
Among the Teda Tibetsi, a guard watches over the maturing wild cereals. As soon as they are ripe, religious rituals are performed and the clans go out to harvest. Once they have started, outsiders can also join in266. Thus priority is given to local people.
In Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria, people cultivate a wild
grass, Digitalis exilis, for food267. The Oubangui women of
the Central African Republic, apart from collecting wild plants for food, have
also learned to cultivate a salty plant (Hygrophila longifolia) from
which they extract salt. It is planted around the homestead by sticking a
flowering stem into the soil, and allowing the rain and sun to ripen and
naturally scatter the seed on the ground, where it grows the following
Bushmen, like other hunter-gatherers, never kill more than they can immediately eat269, thus their impact on wildlife resources is spread over time. In eastern and southern Africa, where there are still substantial wildlife resources, pastoralists, such as the Tswana270, often turn to hunting and trading wildlife products when they loose their livestock to rinderpest and other epidemics.
The Tswana have regimented cooperative hunts, where once a year they will hunt a large number of animals and share the products. They also can organize hunts, called letsholo, for special ceremonial purposes271. The Ngoni of southeastern Zambia have communal and inter-village hunts, mostly in the dry season but also whenever a predator is sighted. These hunts are organized by a leader who appoints two men as coordinators of the hunt272. The chief of the Nyakyusa of southwest Tanzania also organizes the communal hunting and fishing parties273.
The Guahibo of the Llanos of west central Venezuela and eastern Colombia are hunter-gatherers who deliberately use fire as a tool to produce a good grass cover for deer274. This form of deliberate plant management for wildlife has not yet been recorded in Africa.
Bee keeping and honey collecting usually involves placing wooden or thatched containers in trees, and harvesting the honey after smoking the bees out. However, some groups have devised special containers that can be used several times without destroying the bees, for example the Arabs of southern Chad275. The Kamba of Machakos District (Kenya) hang their beehives on trees on common land, but the owner of the hive has all rights to the tree and the land surrounding it276.
Many groups, both pastoral and hunter-gatherer, have traditional totems associated with each clan or lineage, that prohibits the members of that lineage to directly or indirectly eat or harm the totem. Some examples are the Shona of Zimbabwe277, the Tallensi278, and the Bushmen279 In some groups, such as the Rendille, only special sub-clans, such as those claiming descent from priestly ones, have prohibitions against eating all game meat280. Most totems are animals or parts of animals, although the Shona also have totems of pools of water, from which the people can drink, but must respect and not abuse, and are prohibited from eating certain fish281. Wildlife are also protected in and sometimes in the vicinity of sacred groves and other ritual shrines, for example among the Tallensi282. There does not appear to be a consistent factor for selecting totems, ie. neither utilitarian, medicinal, nor zoological. Thus the totemic and taboo systems inevitably end up protecting all types of animals, and by extension the forest or rangelands they thrive in283.
The Lozi of Zimbabwe have two dozen ways to catch fish,
depending on the season, flood level of the Zambezi river, and whether it is
communal or individual work284. The people of northern Burkina Faso
use the fruit, bark and roots of Balanites aegyptiaca to stupefy and
catch fish285. In the central Niger River delta, the fishermen
prohibit access to certain parts of the river at fixed times, and prohibit the
use of fishing nets with too fine a mesh so as to reduce
Pastoral management systems range from simple to complex strategies. On one end of the continuum, simple management systems often rely on the low population pressure, high dispersion and mobility characteristic of pastoral societies to keep a long term ecological balance and to check over-use. On the other end, complex systems are often accompanied by elaborate social controls that regulate and coordinate the action of individual managers. Although there are examples for each of these extreme cases, the majority of pastoral groups fall somewhere in between.
A constant theme that emerges from all the studies reviewed is that the pastoral population is a very heterogeneous one in its objectives, strategies, needs, and management styles. This heterogeneity is evident not only between tribes, but also between individual managers. Management strategies also vary with time even for the same manager. Most if not all groups have informal and formal rules that regulate their use of natural resources. However, these rules are idealized norms, and the day-to-day decisions taken by each manager usually deviate from these norms according to local physical and social circumstances. Beliefs about the ideal rules and customs may be voiced in interviews and discussions, but they are not necessarily followed every time292. The degree to which pastoralists will manage an area depends on whether they have formal rights to the land (see section 2.3.2), and how frequently they use it. They can afford to have a relaxed attitude and not necessarily worry about killing a tree in an area that they rarely frequent, because they know that their cumulative pressure on the area's resources is small and dispersed. But they usually will have strict rules governing the use of high-density areas, such as permanent water points. This heterogeneity in management styles and strategies is often not taken into account by development workers and planners, but is an important basis for the success or failure of each individual manager.
Pastoral systems, like farming systems, rely heavily on detailed monitoring of their natural environment. They do not have sophisticated technologies for monitoring, but they have a holistic set of indicators, each tuned to one or a few aspects of the productivity and health of the natural environment, and lots of time and patience to follow-up on the changes in the indicators. Some formal scientists have criticized the accuracy of individual indicators, for example, that milk yield can be insensitive to changes in body weight and environmental stress, and has the ability to dampen seasonal fluctuations293. However, they tend to forget that the pastoralist does not rely solely on milk yield, but puts together pieces of information from a set of indicators on the performance of his animals and the state of the pastures. The long term perspective afforded by continuous, and holistic, monitoring is a valuable feature of LKMS which development workers would do well to take into account.
Does the pastoralist have a long term strategy? Some believe that he does not because he can move on to new pastures when the old is depleted294. But isn't this mobility a long term strategy? Most of the pastoralist's strategies are aimed at sustaining the potential natural productivity of natural resources in the long term. These include pasture rotation (both seasonal and otherwise), deferment, dispersion, and protection and regeneration of trees and shrubs. Other strategies are aimed at improving the productivity of the rangelands, such as water development, bush clearing, and the use of fire to check the growth of undesirable shrubs and disease vectors.
Is conservation a goal of the pastoralist? If by conservation we mean the western environmentalist's view of protecting natural resources from any use so that the climax stage can be reached, then probably no. But if we mean protection and reservation for future productive use, then probably yes. The African pastoralist, like many American ranchers, has no use for the climax stage of plant succession, which often has less productivity for livestock than lower stages of succession or improved ranges. He is more concerned with maintaining the productivity of the area at a level high enough to meet his needs, and is prepared to either temporarily forego using an area to allow regeneration (if he has other viable pastures to go to), or conversely to deliberately overstock for a short period those pastures that are stimulated by short-intensive grazing.
But sustaining the long term productivity of an area is not the only goal of pastoralists. He is continually balancing several goals: reducing risk, efficiently using the labour available to him, meeting socio-cultural needs, functioning within his local political framework, etc. Sometimes the short term needs of the environment are subordinated to his other needs, but, at least in the traditional system, this is usually a temporary strategy soon abandoned when prevailing constraints are lifted.
Some researchers believe that full pastoralists are better at keeping the ecological balance than agropastoralists, because the former are totally dependent on one set of resources (livestock and pasture), but the latter can also rely on crop cultivation. If it is true that agropastoralists tend to damage their environment more than full pastoralists, and there is some evidence to indicate it, the causes are probably not inherent in the systems but due to external factors, and the challenge is to identify those conditions that make the agropastoralist loose control over the environment295.
Nomadic pastoralism is inherently self-destructive since systems of management are based on the short-term objective of keeping as many animals as possible alive, without regard to the long-term conservation of land resources.296 This commonly held belief is negated by the many different management objectives and strategies described in this section. These show that, within the traditional system, pastoralists had ways to mitigate negative consequences on the environment. This is not to say that environmental degradation did not occur, rather that many mechanisms were in place to avoid degradation, and to allow regeneration if and when it occurred. It is the gradual atrophy of these management, and land tenure, systems that is making this fallacy come true.
1. Monod 1975, p.75.
2. Behnke & Kerven 1984, p.65.
3. Behnke & Kerven 1984, p.54.
4. Stewart 1978, p.119; Stubbendieck 1978, p.141.
5. Behnke & Kerven 1984, p.67.
6. Tubiana & Tubiana 1977, p.77.
7. Colson 1951, p.125.
8. Santoir 1977, p.24.
9. Brandstrom et al 1979, p.15.
10. Wilson 1951, p.270.
11. Evans-Pritchard 1940, p.274.
12. Brandstrom et al 1979, p.15.
13. Middleton & Kershaw 1972, p.36.
14. Fratkin 1986, pp. 276-282.
15. Lewis 1961, p.32.
16. Fratkin 1986, p.276.
17. Fratkin 1986, p.282.
18. Barrow 1988, p.2.
19. Niamir 1985.
20. Winter 1984, p.554.
21. Tubiana & Tubiana 1977, p.10.
22. Diop 1987, p.99.
23. Swift 1977, p.280.
24. Niamir 1982.
25. Marchal 1983, p.565.
26. Gulliver 1970, p.28; McCabe 1983, p.117; Barrow 1988, p.3.
27. Spencer 1965, p.7; Hjort 1976a, p.46.
28. Wagenaar et al 1986, pp. 3-4; Wilson 1986, p.34.
29. Fratkin 1986, p.282.
30. Maliki et al 1984, pp. 465 & 495.
31. Ba 1982, p.37.
32. McDermott & Ngor, p.20.
33. Bourgeot 1981, p.170.
34. Barnes 1951, p.214.
35. Niamir 1985.
36. Tubiana & Tubiana 1977, p.75.
37. Winter 1984, p.556.
38. Spencer 1965, p.8.
39. Spencer 1965, p.25.
40. Behnke & Kerven 1984, p.52.
41. Blench 1985, p.8.
42. Ahmed n.d., p.51.
43. Diop 1987, p.99.
44. Brandstrom et al 1979, p.17.
45. Barral & Benoit 1977, p.109.
46. Middleton & Kershaw 1972, p.21.
47. Fratkin 1986, p.276.
48. Conant n.d., p.115; Barrow 1988, p.1.
49. Colson 1951, p.125.
50. Ngur 1988, p.8.
51. Behnke & Kerven 1984, pp.37-59.
52. Spencer 1965, p.10.
53. Dyson-Hudson & Dyson-Hudson 1982, p.220.
54. Kjenstad 1987.
55. El Sammani 1978, p.22.
56. Wilson 1951, p.270.
57. Putman 1984, p.174.
58. Bremaud & Pagot 1962, p.318; Allanson 1981 cited in Behnke & Kerven 1984, p.9.
59. Stenning 1959, p.207.
60. Behnke & Kerven 1984, p.36.
61. For example, see for the Fulani of northern Burkina Faso, Marchal 1983, pp. 565-572; for the Twareg of Air, Niger, Bernus 1977; the pastoralists of western Chad, Clanet 1977; the Twareg and Fulani of northern Burkina Faso Barral 1977.
62. For example, writing about the Wodaabe, Maliki et al 1984, p.464 and Barral 1967; about the Fulani of northern Nigeria, Adegboye 1978, p.63; about the Turkana of Kenya, Dyson-Hudson & McCabe 1983, p.44; about the Somali of Bay Region, Putman 1984, p.177 and Lewis 1961, p.46 and Behnke & Kerven 1984, p.11; about the Samburu, Hjort 1976a, p.46; and about the Zaghawa of Chad/Sudan Tubiana & Tubiana 1977, p.55.
63. Maliki et al 1984, p.278.
64. Gulliver 1975, p.372.
65. Spencer 1965, p.9.
66. Spencer 1965, p.8.
67. Benoit 1979, p.184.
68. Stenning 1959, p.41.
69. Scott & Gormley 1980, p.97.
70. Gulliver 1975, pp. 374-375.
71. McCabe 1983, p.118.
72. Western 1982, p.192.
73. Western & Dunne 1979, p.92.
74. Stenning 1959, p.216.
75. Delgado 1979, pp. 127-128.
76. Gulliver 1970, p.26.
77. McDermott & Ngor, p.11.
78. Gulliver 1975, p.378.
79. Bourgeot 1981, p.168.
80. Winter 1984, p.552.
81. Tubiana & Tubiana 1977, p.53.
82. Imperato 1972, p.63.
83. Behnke & Kerven 1984, p.47.
84. Western & Dunne 1979, p.77.
85. Gilg 1963, p.502.
86. Barrow 1988, p.5.
87. Gulliver 1975, p.373.
88. Bourgeot 1981, p.167.
89. Sandford 1984, p.13.
90. Odell 1982, p.8.
91. Novikoff 1976, p.61.
92. Western 1982, p.207.
93. El-Arifi 1979, p.36.
94. Fratkin 1986, p.279.
95. Barrow 1988, pp. 2-3.
96. Sutter 1978, p.21.
97. Bourezg 1984, p.217.
98. Jacobs 1980, p.287.
99. Western 1982,p. 191.
100. Ostberg 1987, p.48.
101. Allan 1965, p.301.
102. Brandstrom et al 1979, p.35.
103. Western 1982, p.191.
104. Behnke & Kerven 1984, p.74.
105. Stenning 1959, pp. 56 & 212.
106. Adegboye 1978, pp. 64-65.
107. Stenning 1959, p.219; Maliki et al 1984, p.278.
108. Gallais 1975, p.56.
109. Ahmed n.d., p.53.
110. Clyburn 1978, p.109.
111. Adegboye 1978, pp. 64-65.
112. Hjort 1976a, p.46.
113. Gulliver 1970, pp.44-45.
114. McArthur & Harrington 1978, p.597.
115. Niamir 1987.
116. Gulliver 1975, p.371.
117. Sandford 1984, p.13.
118. Ostberg 1987, p.48.
119. Western 1982, p.202.
120. Santoir 1977, p.43.
121. Hervouet 1977, p.82.
122. Cassanelli 1984, p.484.
123. For example, see a study among the Fulani of northern Burkina Faso, Marchal 1983, p.560; among East African herders, Dyson-Hudson & Dyson-Hudson 1982, p.235; and among the Maasai, Jacobs 1980, p.287.
124. Maliki et al 1984, p.260.
125. Ba 1982, pp. 26-28.
126. Ba 1982, p.28.
127. Western 1982, p.191; Homewood & Rodgers 1984, p.436.
128. Spencer 1965, p.17.
129. Ba 1982, pp. 24-28.
130. Stiles & Kassam 1986, p.4.
131. Oba 1985.
132. Sweet 1965a, p.140.
133. Clyburn 1978, p.109.
134. Sandford 1984, p.15.
135. McDermott & Ngor 1983, pp. 21-23.
136. Hjort 1976a, p.48.
137. Benoit 1979, p.44.
138. Conant n.d., p.115.
139. C. Toulmin, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London, pers. comm. 1988.
140. F. Bohlin, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, pers. comm. 1989.
141. Stenning 1959, p.215.
142. Legesse 1984, p.482.
143. Sandford 1984, p.12.
144. Riesman 1984, p.186.
145. Mottin 1977, p.49.
146. Jacobs 1980, p.287.
147. Sandford 1984, p.11.
148. Gluckman 1951, p.63.
149. Galaty 1981, p.4.
150. Gilles 1988, p.1164.
151. Ahmed n.d., p.47.
152. Behnke & Kerven 1984, p.39.
153. Stenning 1959, p.217.
154. Wilson 1986, p.33.
155. McDermott & Ngor 1983, pp. 11-13.
156. Maliki et al 1984, pp. 258, 293, 308.
157. Jacobs 1980, p.286.
158. Peters 1984, p.31.
159. McDermott & Ngor 1983, p.13.
160. Gulliver 1975, p.372; McCabe 1983, p.121.
161. Behnke & Kerven 1984, p.199.
162. Stenning 1959, p.53; Maliki et al 1984, p.302.
163. Jacobs 1980, p.286.
164. Sandford 1984, p.9.
165. Rabeh 1984, p.59.
166. Little & Brokensha 1987, p.200.
167. Sweet 1965a, pp. 139-140.
168. Artz et al 1986.
169. Schapera 1940, p.72.
170. Devitt 1982, p.18.
171. Wagenaar et al 1986, p.4.
172. Fortes 1940, p.259.
173. Ahmed n.d., p.49.
174. Gluckman 1951, p.11.
175. Gilg 1963, p.504.
176. Niamir 1982.
177. Ahmed n.d., p.54.
178. Imperato 1972, p.63.
179. Stenning 1959, p.55.
180. Bourgeot 1981, p.171.
181. Niamir 1982.
182. Sweet 1965a, p.150.
183. Gulliver 1970, p.29.
184. Gallais 1975, p.75.
185. Sandford 1984, p.8.
186. Ba 1982, p.12.
187. Riesman 1984, p.175.
188. Gulliver 1970, p.35.
189. Bernus 1979, p.125.
190. C. Toulmin, IIED, pers. comm. 1988.
191. Barrow 1988, p.7.
192. Morton 1988, p.10.
193. Swift 1988a, p.9.
194. Brokensha & Riley 1980a, p.122.
195. Riesman 1984, p.186.
196. Marchal 1983, p.171.
197. Brokensha & Riley 1980a.
198. Barrow 1988, p.16.
199. Gadgil 1985, p.141.
200. Stiles & Kassam 1986, p.16.
201. Ellis et al 1984, pp. 174-180.
202. Mottin 1977, p.48.
203. de Beij 1986, pp. 68-70.
204. Barrow 1988, p.12.
205. Ellis et al 1984, p.170.
206. Marchal 1983, p.174.
207. Brokensha & Riley 1980a.
208. Brokensha & Riley 1980a, p.121.
209. Legesse 1984, p.481.
210. Gluckman 1951, p.30.
211. Pullan 1974 cited in Wiersum 1985, p.108.
212. Legesse 1984, p.481.
213. Barrow 1988, p.8.
214. Brokensha & Castro 1987, p.20.
215. Delgado 1979, p.127.
216. Ogunsiji et al 1988, p.11.
217. Wylie et al 1984, p.758.
218. Delgado 1979, p.125.
219. Tubiana & Tubiana 1975, p.470.
220. Turner 1984, p.157.
221. Behnke & Kerven 1984, p.50.
222. Personal observation, 1983.
223. Wilson 1986, pp.32-34.
224. Novikoff 1976, p.58.
225. Bedoian 1978, p.71.
226. Personal observation, 1986.
227. Mackay 1988, p.20.
228. Behnke & Kerven 1984, p.31.
229. Lewis 1961, p.89.
230. Maliki et al 1984, p.267.
231. Tubiana & Tubiana 1977, p.46.
232. Tubiana & Tubiana 1977, p.55.
233. Jacobs 1980, p.278.
234. Helland 1982, p.249.
235. McDermott & Ngor 1983, p.24.
236. Diop 1987, p.41.
237. Barral 1977, p.64.
238. Diop 1987, p.41.
239. Tubiana & Tubiana 1975, p.477.
240. El Amami 1983.
241. Vidal 1978, p.115.
242. Vidal 1978, pp.114 & 120.
243. Dyson-Hudson & McCabe n.d., p.41.
244. Legesse 1984, p.482.
245. Maliki et al 1984, p.266.
246. Putman 1984, p.169.
247. Helland 1982, pp. 251-252.
248. Ostberg 1987, p.15.
249. Oba 1985.
250. Monod 1975, p.77.
251. El-Arifi 1979, p.36.
252. Lewis 1961, p.35.
253. Cashdan 1984, p.446.
254. Boutrais 1974, p.162.
255. For example, Baumer 1975b.
256. For example, Lemordant 1971; Adam et al 1972; Gast 1972.
257. Stiles & Kassam 1986, p.17.
258. Swift 1988a, p.9.
259. Barral 1977, p.62.
260. Winter 1984, p.553.
261. Bernus 1967, pp. 33-43.
262. Scott & Gormley 1980, p.101.
263. Tubiana & Tubiana 1977, p.17.
264. Morgan 1980, p.7.
265. Tubiana 1969, pp. 57-74; Tubiana & Tubiana 1977, p.14.
266. Tubiana & Tubiana 1977, p.18.
267. Allan 1965, p.255.
268. Guillemin 1956, p.147.
269. Campbell 1971, p.109.
270. Campbell 1971, p.112.
271. Campbell 1971, p.111.
272. Barnes 1951, p.215.
273. Wilson 1951, p.286.
274. Morey & Morey 1978, p.118.
275. Gadbin 1976, p.101.
276. Middleton & Kershaw 1972, p.78.
277. Tobayiwa & Jackson 1985, p.233.
278. Fortes 1945, p.142.
279. Campbell 1971, p.109.
280. Schlee 1985, p.27.
281. Tobayiwa & Jackson 1985, p.232.
282. Fortes 1945, p.142.
283. Tobayiwa & Jackson 1985, p.233.
284. Gluckman 1951, p.10.
285. Marchal 1983, p.171.
286. MAB 1978, p.81.
287. Kerharo 1968, p.468.
288. Adam et al 1972, p.260.
289. Adam et al 1972, p.274.
290. Adam et al 1972, p.272.
291. Elmi, Ahmed & Abdi 1984, p.192.
292. Gladwin 1980, p.13; Knight 1980, p.222.
293. Western 1982, p.200.
294. Oba 1985.
295. Brandstrom et al 1979, p.35.
296. Allan 1965, p.321.
2.3.1 Production systems and strategies
2.3.2 Natural resource tenure
2.3.3 Reserves and protected areas
2.3.4 Means of enforcement of rules
The LKMS and technologies used for managing natural resources described in the previous sections, are enclosed within a socio-political/economic framework, and institutional and organizational structures. This section puts these daily management practices into their wider context by discussing first the overall production systems and strategies of pastoral societies, followed by the institutional structures that define the common property regimes (both natural resource tenure and protected and reserved resources), and finally the means for enforcing the rules and regulations on natural resources enshrined within the society.
Pastoral production is not a random set of physical and social factors, but a deliberate attempt to combine economic and production features that minimize risk, and maximize the long term chances of survival of a group. Each group has a distinct production system and set of overall strategies that have evolved through the generations and are adapted to the vagaries of arid and semi-arid lands.
There are many different types of production systems in arid and semi-arid Africa. They include hunting-gathering, transhumant pastoralism, agropastoralism, and transhumants who are opportunistic farmers (see Section 1.2). Many of these different production systems do not exist in isolation of each other. In fact, cooperation between different systems appears to be the norm rather than the exception. Such cooperation can take the form of allowing transhumants to graze one's harvest residue thus benefiting from their manure, such as among the Fulani herders and Hausa farmers of northern Nigeria. Another form of cooperation is where a farmer will entrust his animals to a transhumant herder; the latter benefits from the milk and other fees paid by the former, and the farmer takes advantage of the higher skill of the herder, and also frees up his family's labour for cropping tasks. Some examples are the Mossi and Bisa farmers of southeast Burkina Faso who give their livestock to Fulani herders1, and the settled Fulani of the Niger river delta who entrust their livestock to Fulani transhumants². The Pokot of western Kenya are an example of specialization and cooperation within fractions of the same tribe. The Ngelani Pokot cultivate the highlands while the Masol Pokot raise livestock on the lowlands, and they have formalized exchange systems both for products and for social purposes3. There can also be cooperation between fully pastoral groups. The most famous case is probably that of the symbiosis between the Samburu and Rendille of Kenya. They are traditional allies whose residential areas and pastures overlap because of the complementarity between their production systems: the Rendille raise camels while the Samburu have cattle4.
Spontaneous sedentarization of full transhumants is not solely a modern phenomena but has been occurring gradually and in a piece-meal fashion throughout the ages. The causes are often environmental stress. For example drought encourages herders to diversify into cropping, some of whom do not return to full herding once the drought has passed. Another reason can be finding good physical and social conditions, as was the case with the Fulani who settled on the Jos Plateau in Nigeria.*
* In this case, a group of Fulani came to the Jos plateau in the early 1900's and found uninhabited land free of tse tse, which they could use all year round. The following year they came back and found that Ron farmers had cultivated and settled around their camp grounds, taking advantage of the manure. They then decided to settle near the Ron, with whom they had set up good relations, and who through bush clearing provided them with good dry season fallow grazing (Hickey 1978, p.96).
When comparing the three major production systems, it has been noted that economic productivity (i.e. output per unit of labour) is highest among hunter-gatherers, followed by pastoralists, and lastly by dryland farmers. However, land productivity (i.e. output per unit of land) is the reverse. Thus pastoralism is good where land is abundant but labour scarce, and as land becomes scarce, a switch to farming becomes more efficient5.
We have come much closer to gaining an understanding of the rationale behind the different systems and how they have evolved and adapted to their physical and social environment. We now see traditional livestock management in Africa as a system adapted to marginal lands6, that involves a complicated set of calculations, risks, and strategies designed to maximize production and consumption7, and to minimize the effects of natural hazards.
The success of the production systems described above in evolving and adapting to their physical and social environment, is partly due to the many different production strategies that are employed to meet each new challenge. These strategies are the major tools that maintain the resilience of the systems, and help to minimize risk8. Some strategies have already been mentioned in connection with LKMS and management practices, for example, mobility, herd splitting, dispersion, etc., or in connection with production systems, such as economic transactions with non-pastoral people. Other strategies, that may directly or indirectly affect natural resources, are: large herds, diversity of animals, efficient herd structure, emphasis on milk rather than meat, hardy animals, social exchange and insurance schemes, adequate offtake rates, and crisis or fallback activities.
Having large herds, once thought as being simply a status symbol, is now recognized to be an insurance mechanism that allows the individual household to survive through periods of stress, including droughts and disease epidemics9. Large herds allow faster recovery after a drought, and more supply of milk and meat per herd during the drought10. The desire to have unlimited number of animals is an ideal that is seldom achieved because of labour constraints for watering and herding11 (see BOX 2.35). Where there is no pasture shortage and other physical constraints, having large herds, coupled with pasture rotation, mobility and other strategies, do not necessarily pose a threat to the ecological balance. However, with increasing shortages of natural resources, and the recent droughts, the pastoralist has no choice but to retain herd maximization as an economic strategy for the survival of his household.
Herd maximization, or the long term strategy of having large
herds, is a common feature among pastoralists. Apart from fulfilling social
functions, large herds also allow the individual to weather periods of stress.
Most pastoralists want large, but not too large, herds. For example, the Samburu
say that herds of up to 150 head are optimal because if larger they would take
too long to water, and would not have enough time to graze. Therefore, they
would either have to stay close to the water points, and thus overgraze the
pastures, or employ much more labour to take them to distant pastures. The
Rendille have larger herds than the neighbouring Samburu because of more
cooperation among herders12, and also because the camels, herded by
the Rendille, need more labour since in any case they have to be taken to
distant pastures. Some groups have larger herds than others because of their
dietary needs. For example, the Maasai need to have large herds and regular
movements because they subsist entirely on livestock unlike other groups who
diversify into crops or wild plant gathering13.
The structure of the typical herd is often dominated by female animals. Anywhere from 2/3 to 3/4 of the livestock are female17, reflecting the pastoralist's concern with milk and reproductive ability of his herd. This strategy may not directly affect natural resources, after all male and female animals consume the same amount per kg-liveweight, but it does affect the success of his production system.
Milk is one of the most important end-products of pastoral production. It is a major component of their diets and features predominantly in their transactions with non-pastoralists. Its importance has been noted among the Fulani of Niger18, Wodaabe Fulani of Nigeria19, and Dinka of Sudan20, among many others. In general, a milk-oriented strategy allows more people to be supported on the land than a meat-oriented ranch21.
Another important decision taken by pastoralists is in their choice of animal breeds. Given the conditions under which they are raised, long treks with little water or forage, poor quality forage in the dry season, heat, insects and disease, etc., African livestock are selected (in addition to milk output, high fertility, etc.) for their hardiness and ability to survive amid these harsh conditions. An example can be found among the Wodaabe of Nigeria22. Their very hardiness, and the conditions under which the livestock are raised, often also mean low meat output, a feature that runs counter to modern ranching principles.
Formal redistribution systems, where livestock are used in an intricate web of loans, gifts, obligations, and alliances, act as a social cement in pastoral societies23, as well as mitigating the effects of disease, drought, raids, and other stresses24. These systems of reciprocal redistribution also tend to homogenize livestock ownership, or at least usufruct, among individual households, which help to prevent strong class differences. Long term loans also distribute the livestock fairly evenly over the rangelands (see BOX 2.36). These redistribution schemes have often been the bane of group ranch projects that try to maintain a fixed number of livestock, belonging to the same people, in one area.
Formal redistribution systems serve to homogenize livestock
distribution over the pastures. For example, the Borana of southern Ethiopia
have a system, called kallu, where the leader gives to the poor of
his tribe, the gifts he received from others26. The
Fulani27, like the Angolan pastoralists28, distribute
their livestock through different systems among relatives and friends in order
to maintain at least an average sized herd in each household. The
agropastoralists of Zimbabwe prefer to keep only 10-15 cattle in their own
kraal, sending the rest to a number of other related kraals. This reduces
overgrazing, and the need for manpower at the owner's place, and helps the
stockless relatives/friends29. The Samburu30 and the
Sukuma31 have formalized exchange relationships among stock
friends, and the Basotho call their system the
mafisa32. The complexity of these redistribution schemes
is reflected in the many different types of ownership of livestock recognized by
pastoralists. For example, the Wodaabe of Niger have 8 ownership categories,
including many types of lending (such as the habbanae)33,
and the Twareg have 11 different categories34.
During times of stress and drought, pastoralists have recourse to a few crisis strategies, i.e. activities that they engage in temporarily to tide them over the period of stress. These include raids, the trans-Sahara trade (although this activity has gradually diminished as the importance of that route has decreased), hunting and gathering, spontaneous and temporary farming, wage labour (in urban areas or mines, such as the uranium mines in Niger), and recently, refugee aid35. Raiding is an ecological adaptation that helps to support subsistence patterns by replenishing stocks, and equalizes wealth among tribes36. But raiding also means insecurity and high cost of defense for the weaker tribes. The Fulani of the Niger River delta acknowledge that in the days before pacification, even during the time of the Macina kingdom, they had few livestock because of raids, and political and religious tithes37. The pacification programme of Colonial governments has generally eliminated raiding, especially in West Africa, but it still occurs in parts of East Africa.
188.8.131.52 Rangeland tenure
184.108.40.206 Tenure of trees, water and other resources
The degree to which the different natural resource management techniques, discussed in the previous section, are utilized depend in large part on the degree to which rights and tenure are recognized and exercised. This section discusses the many different types of natural resource rights and tenure exercised by pastoralists, and the social organizations underlying them.
The ownership of natural resources (land, water, trees, other wild plants, wildlife, etc.) has been the subject of many studies in recent years. These have helped create an awareness of the importance of ownership, in whatever form, for natural resource management. Resource tenure can be defined as the full and exclusive ownership of resources, or the right to use them without owning it (usufruct), or something between the two. Ownership includes the right to use the resource, and the right to determine the extent and nature of use by others. Resources can be individually or communally owned. Communal tenure implies that the enjoyment of rights is not exclusive to one individual, but is shared collectively by a community38. Not all types of tenure are communal, and not all resources are regulated by the same rights.
One of the more enduring myths of our time has been that of the tragedy of the commons first propounded by G. Hardin (1968). In its simplest form, it states that when land is communally owned, each individual has no incentive to reduce and restrict his use of it, thus leading inevitably to abuse of the resources. This concept was falsely attributed to communal property when it really refers to open access lands, ie. where there are no communal and social controls over the land39. In most traditional systems all lands were claimed either privately or communally. The concept of vacant or unclaimed land has been introduced by Colonial governments, and applied especially to range and forestlands, since maps of these areas were often based on surveys done only in one season, missing the pastoralists who were on transhumance40. Some areas did appear to be vacant, in so far as there were no sustained claims to them, but they often were considered to be in the sphere of influence of certain tribes, or were the object of expansion and warfare between neighbouring tribes. For example the Twareg and Fulani of northern Burkina Faso, in addition to having many areas definitely divided between them, were continuously disputing rights to borderline areas41.
In general, natural resources are usually owned by the highest social level (e.g. tribe or kingdom) recognized in the group, and are then allocated down the hierarchy to lower levels of social organization through intricate systems of distribution. At a certain socio-political level in the hierarchy natural resources are no longer distributed and are owned and/or controlled by the members of that level. This lowest socio-political level can be individual or communal and appears to vary considerably among pastoral groups, at least as far as transit routes and rangelands are concerned**. The few records found on transit routes show that the lowest level can be subtribes, as among the Twareg of Niger42 and Quaddai of Chad43, lineages, as among the Bor Dinka of Kongor44, or herding groups. An example of the latter are the Arab pastoralists of central Chad (such as the Khozam, Ouled Himet, Ouled Zioud, etc.) where the herding units control transit routes (mukhal), which are several kilometers wide and include water points and markets45.
** Unfortunately many studies do not indicate whether the tenure arrangement they describe is the lowest social unit, or a level further up on the tenure hierarchy. For example, when talking about tenure at the subtribal level, they do not indicate whether the rights are then distributed to lower levels, or are used equally by all in the subtribe.
Some authors have generalized that rangelands are usually allocated at the tribal or sub-tribal level, while water rights are at the clan or subclan level, because the latter require regular repair, are consistently used, and are more fiercely competed for46. However, the records examined here show that rangelands are divided among so many different types of lower social units that it is impossible to make a generalization. These levels can be kinship units (e.g. tribe, subtribe, segment, clan, etc. down to extended households and individual nuclear families), geographical and/or political associations, and contractual agreements with local land-owning farmers (see BOXES 2.37 and 2.38). In almost all cases, the highest social level (e.g. tribe) retains formal ownership of the land, giving only rights of usufruct to the lower levels. In some cases, the tribe can theoretically change the land distribution pattern, but in most cases, the rights of the lower levels are known, constant, inalienable, and based on historical precedence.
Tenure according to kinship units
In a few pastoral groups, rangeland tenure is held communally at the highest socio-political level, i.e. the tribe, and not distributed among lower levels. Thus all members of the tribe have theoretically equal access to all tribal land, and the tribal chief or king is responsible for ensuring adequate water and pasture for all and protection against trespassers. Some examples are the Lozi of southern Zambia/northern Zimbabwe47, the lla, who live to the southwest of Kafue Flats in southern Zambia48, and the camel herding Bedouin tribes of northern Saudi Arabia, where each tribe has its own winter pasture, permanent water point for summer, and an urban market49.
Communal tenure of rangelands at the sub-tribal level is more common than at the tribal level, but still not as common as at lower levels. The Hottentots of South Africa divided their rangelands at the subtribal level, and each sub-tribe had both wet and dry season pastures50. Among the Shona of Zimbabwe, the tribal leader allocates a sphere of influence to each sub-tribe which includes bush and farmland. The two types of land use are geographically separated, but because of shifting cultivation, the latter has priority over the former in the allocation procedure. Grazing and the use of trees is communal for members of the subtribe, but priority is given to the current user51.
Division of rangeland among sections, segments and fractions has also been recorded. For example, among the Dinka of Kongor, each section (made up of several clans) has its own particular cattle camps and grazing areas52. Among the Turkana, all members of a subsection have equal access to the grazing resources within its boundaries53. Among the Nuer each tribal segment (made up of several lineages) has its own distinct land separated by unoccupied land54, although single, large lineages will eventually be associated with distinct territories55. Among the Ait Ben Yacoub of Morocco, the rangeland is divided informally among the four subtractions, based on the customary rule that one does not graze close to another's dwellings and camps. Sub-fraction boundaries are more diffuse and less equally distributed than fraction boundaries, and are the subject of constant disputes56.
Communal tenure at the clan or sub-clan level is more common than above. Some examples are the Samburu57, the Suiei Dorobo of Kenya, who are beekeepers and raise shoats58, and the Twareg. Among the Twareg of Ahaggar Mountains (Algeria), each clan has its own rangelands, except for the dominant clan (Kel Ghela), who can use everyone else's rangelands. The leader, amenokol, allocates the rangelands among clans, and they in turn pay fees to him59. The Somali are organized into 6 clan-families, or groups of clans, each headed by a primarily ceremonial sultan, but no centralized administrative government. Each clan-family has its distinct territory, which can be drawn on a map. Each clan within a clan-family has its own territory, whereas the next lower social level, lineages, use overlapping communal territories60. Among the Zaghawa of Chad, rangelands are usually common to all members of the tribe, except in the dry season, when pastures are allocated after harvest through a clan council, based on the principle that herds should not be so close that the animals get mixed up61.
Probably the most typical form of communal rangeland tenure is at the lineage level. Some examples are the Madi agropastoralists of northwestern Uganda62, and the Serer of Senegal and Luo of Kenya63. Among the Kikuyu of Kenya a council of elders of the clan has control over common land and arbitrates between lineages. The muramati, is an elder chosen on the basis of merit, who allocates and controls this land64. Kikuyu lineage territories are not necessarily contiguous, as political boundaries are, but they define the land use pattern. Among the Mbeere of Kenya, some bushland can be claimed by lineages, although the remainder is common to all Mbeere65.
The next most common form of rangeland tenure is at the level of a group of families or extended households, often coinciding with a herding unit. Some examples are the Bedouin of the northwestern coastal zone of Egypt66, the Mbanderu Herero of northern Botswana67, and the Bushmen of Kalahari, who have territories for each group of 3-4 families68. Among the Pokot of Kenya, the range is divided among groups of households including rights to watering points and the meeting place of elders of the group, kokwo, who decide on pastoral movements and other matters69. The Maasai divide rangelands according to political structures, olosho, which correspond to tribal sections based on the age-set system70. But the actual control of land is in the hands of the boma or group of households, who are supervised and regulated by a council of elders71.
Tenure of rangeland at the family level is rare but has been
recorded. In these cases, each household or even nuclear family has rights to
its own distinct territory. Some examples are the Afar of Ethiopia72,
and the Kasena, where household land is passed on to the next generation by
heredity73. Each village of the Ngwato Tswana is divided into wards,
dinaga74. The ward headmen allocates land to each
household for housing, farming and grazing. In addition, there are
royal grazing lands where only the great chief's cattle (and those
of his herders and their lineage members) could graze75. Among the
northern Turkana, each household owns stretches along river courses,
ere, where they have permanent wells. These lands are passed down
generations, and outsiders must seek permission before using them76.
In southwestern Angola, the agropastoralists are divided into communities, each
claiming a sometimes loosely defined terrain, tchilongo. In
addition, each homestead in the community has 15-50 acres of private land, which
includes farm, residence and private pasture land, ongole, which is
used by the family herd in the dry season77. Among the Kamba of
Machakos (Kenya) land is allocated by the elder's council of the
utui to each household. The utui is based on contiguity of
households (geographical unit) rather than kinship. Fallow land owned by a Kamba
family can only be grazed by the livestock of that family or lineage. In
addition, some grazing lands can be made exclusive to an individual or a
lineage. Called kisese, these private pastures are established by
building and occupying a cattle post, and the land immediately around it is
exclusive to the builder(s). The number and size of kiseses are regulated by the
Tenure according to other socio-political units
Not all rangeland tenure is according to kinship groups, but is often based on spatial (geographical) proximity. This is especially true for those systems where tenure is held at the household level (mentioned in BOX 2.37), and the high mobility of households results in frequent changes in the membership of herding units. For example, the Fulani of Fouta-Dialon (Guinea) have a common village territory called leydi79. A similar system exists among the Mbororo Fulani of northern Nigeria80. The Lahawin of Sudan grant rights to rangelands to each dry-season camp, mashaikh, which is also a political unit81. As mentioned above, the Bushmen of Kalahari have distinct territories for each group of families forming a base camp. Although the land is usually handed down on patrilineal lines, claims only last about two generations due to intermarriage and mobility of individuals among base camps82, thus in effect the base camp, and not the patrilineal group, is the lowest level of communal land tenure. A similar contradiction between theoretical and actual land tenure occurs among the Kikuyu. The land of a Kikuyu lineage is not necessarily contiguous, since it depends on the local topography of ridges and valleys. Since the best place to build the compound is on top of the ridge, each lineage will have ridgetops and valley bottoms for grazing scattered between different catenas. But in effect, the livestock of a compound will graze over the land of several lineages83.
In some cases, land tenure is based on political divisions, rather than kinship or geographical units. For example, the agropastoral Ngoni of southeastern Zambia have a feudal political organization headed by a King, and including a Royal family, chiefs, subchiefs, etc. Tribal land is divided among chiefs and sub-chiefs, whose domains are not necessarily contiguous, and there are no distinct pastures associated with a village. In fact, fights and confrontation between different village herds are actively sought by the young herders to show their strength and that of their bulls84.
Rights to grazing can also be obtained through negotiation and
contracts with local land owning peoples. For example, in the dry season, some
subtribes of the Tonga in southern Zambia (such as the Mwana) establish long
term contracts with the neighbouring Twa fishermen, where the Twa are
responsible for reserving the pastures for the Mwana in return for tobacco. The
exchange of other goods (cereals and fish for milk and meat) also helps to
maintain the relationships. The route from the wet to dry season pasture is
constant and always reserved for each subtribe, even in time of war, although no
tax or fee is paid to the local people for rights of transit85. In
northern Burkina Faso (southern Yatenga) the Mossi farmers who own the land give
long term contracts to the Fulani for grazing rights in the dry season. In the
event of a shortage of pasture, the Fulani herd will split up and enter into a
second contract with another village. The earth priests of the Mossi
control the process of land allocation86. A similar system exists in
northern Yatenga between the Fulani and Kurumba87. However, not all
contracts are well defined. For example, the Fulani agropastoralists of northern
Nigeria, living among Hausa farmers, obtain grazing rights around their
settlements from the local Hausa ruler by paying tribute and gifts. Although
these rights are fixed in general, they are flexible in detail and lead often to
conflict between farmer and herder, with the latter loosing most of the
Tribal territories usually have distinct boundaries, often following prominent topographical features. However, in some cases the boundaries can be vague, except when they cover important points (wells, salt licks, ponds, etc.). In addition, even if the boundaries are clearly delimited and recognized, many groups tolerate a certain amount of trespass in either direction93. Not all tribal boundaries are distinct and separate. In some cases there is considerable overlap in tribal territories (see BOX 2.39). Finally, in too many well documented cases, traditional tribal boundaries do not coincide with modern national or regional ones. Some examples are the Somali (divided between Somalia and Ethiopia), the Dinka and Nuer (divided between northern and southern Sudan), and the Maasai (divided between Kenya and Tanzania).
The Toubou of northern Chad recognize ownership of specific
valleys and drainage ways94, Shona subtribal boundaries are divided
by rivers, hilltops and other topographical features95, and the Ait
Ben Yacoub Berbers have distinct territorial boundaries which are known to all
pastoralists and can be delimited on maps96. The boundaries of the
Twareg of Niger are vague except when they cover important points such as water,
salt, etc.97. The Samburu and Rendille have overlapping territories,
as mentioned before. The same kind of overlap can occur within a tribe. For
example, among the Twareg, because of the quasi-feudal system and the vertical
integration of castes, the territory of clans of the same caste and status do
not overlap and are well separated, but the terrain of different castes
do98. On the other hand, there are cases of not so friendly relations
among neighbouring tribes who share the same rangelands. For example, the Arab
pastoralists of central Chad have definite rainy season pastures, but have to
share dry season pastures with other ethnic groups and there is often friction
The ownership of trees on rangeland, like that on farmland, does not necessarily follow the same tenure patterns as that of the range itself. In other words, land tenure is not necessarily the same as tree tenure100. Very little has been written on the tree rights of pastoralists. In most cases each pastoralist is free to use any tree within the territory that he has grazing rights to. For example among the Shona of Zimbabwe, the use of trees is communal within the subtribe, but priority is given to the current user101. There are a few recorded cases of tree tenure at the family level. For example, among the northern Turkana, both water and certain fruit and browse trees on the ere (or household's land) are exclusive to the household and passed down to sons102. The Suiei Dorobo of Kenya recognize individual, exclusive, ownership of valuable trees in the bushland103. In some cases, ownership of trees in the bush may be de facto, not de jure. For example, the Fulani of northern Senegal, say that trees in the immediate vicinity of an homestead belong to the household104.
The ownership of water points among pastoralists depends on the type of point. Natural ponds tend to belong to the social unit that owns the rangeland, be it tribe, section, clan, etc. For example, use of natural ponds and springs on Jie and Turkana territory is open to all members of the tribe on a first come first serve basis105. The Borana of southern Ethiopia distinguish between two types of natural ponds: 1) lola or rainy season ponds are open to all unless they are close to settlements, in which case the local people have priority, and 2) hara or larger ponds that hold water into (but not all of) the dry season, and may be improved, belong to the clan106. The volcanic mineral springs, lahore, of northern Cameroon are owned by different clans. The clan leaders (lamido) have complete authority over their use, and will often close the springs temporarily. They also use the time when people use lahores to charge traditional taxes107.
The ownership of wells is usually based on kinship units, but can also be geographical and/or political units, or a mixture of tenure types. The particular system often depends on the type of well (deep or shallow) and the amount of labour that is required to construct and maintain it. There is no record of tenure of wells at the higher socio-political levels, such as tribe or subtribe. Most wells are owned by levels below subsections and clans. As long as wells are owned by large social units, such as clans and lineages, the clan leaders can exert control over the number of wells that can be constructed in an area. When the wells are owned by a family or extended household then there is seemingly no system for regulating the spatial distribution of wells - men own the wells but not the aquifer. However, certain informal rules regulate the distance between wells, such as the desire to avoid intermingling of herds, and the fact that deep wells require considerable labour and will not be constructed by someone unless he is a regular user of the area (see BOX 2.40).
Maasai subsections (localities) own wells but not the land, and are regulated by a council of elders108. Among the Zaghawa, wells are owned by the clan that dug it109. The two types of permanent wells (ela) of the Borana (one deep and in bedrock, and other shallow and in alluvial sand) are owned by the clan, and remain in its ownership even if silted in and cleaned by another clan110. In practice access to a Borana well does not necessarily depend on clan membership, but on complex political negotiations based on contribution of manpower to the digging and maintenance of wells111.
Individual or household ownership of wells is also quite common. Wells usually belong to whoever builds them, such as among the Jie and Turkana112, the Twareg, Bella and Fulani of northern Burkina Faso113, and the Wodaabe Fulani of Niger114. In these cases, even though the herder has exclusive rights to his well, he does not own the pastures or aquifer, and anyone else can theoretically dig a well next to his. Wells may be theoretically owned by a family, but in practice they usually cannot refuse permission to others. For example, among the Samburu outsiders must ask permission of the digger of the well, but if he refuses there is a fight. The rights of the Samburu family are theoretically inalienable as long as the well is used and maintained. Once it is silted, broken and abandoned, it can be redug and owned by anyone else115. Among the Turkana wells belong to the immediate kin and close agnatic relatives of whoever helped build them116. But those in the ere belong exclusively to the household117. Although theoretically anyone in the social unit can dig a well anywhere, the type of well and the amount of labour necessary restricts the digging of deeper wells to those who regularly use the surrounding pastures118.
In some cases wells are owned by a mixture of tenure types.
For example, among the Somali deep and wider mouthed wells are owned by clans
and lineages, while smaller wells are owned by smaller lineages or individuals,
and the ownership is handed down through generations. If the well is temporarily
not in use, it will be covered by a thorn fence and the lineage/clan brand. But
if the owner(s) decide to move to a completely new area, then they will abandon
the well and others can take over119. Well ownership among the
Bambara of central Mali depends on the ease with which it can be found. Deep
wells dug through rock, or wells that need considerable money for structural
support materials, are owned by the village or ward, but shallow wells dug
through sand are owned and dug by the same household. The Bambara prefer to dig
their own well so that they can attract Fulani herders into mutual contracts
that exchange water for manure120.
Among the Lele of western Burkina Faso, all members of the tribe are free to graze and cultivate in tribal lands without seeking permission, but its wildlife resources are owned by particular villages and any outsider, even a Lele, cannot hunt without permission121. Although grazing land among the Suiei Dorobo is owned at the clan and subclan levels, each individual owns the trees and surrounding land that he uses for his beekeeping activities122. In many parts of Africa, local chiefs had control over fisheries, and exercised various protective controls123.
Those pastoral groups that rely heavily on wild cereal gathering also have some form of tenure of the cereal growing areas. For example, the Zaghawa divide these areas among villages based on the rights of precedence first established by ancestors. Within each village, a woman does not have exclusive formal title to a cereal gathering area, but because of sustained use in the same spot every year, she has priority. If she finds someone else there she can chase them away (but has no right to what has been already collected), although in practice she will go a bit further away to avoid a fight124. The Teda of Tibetsi, divide the wadis where wild grains grow each year among the clans. There is no permanent continuity as among the Zaghawa, but there is more ritual and communal oversight125.
In other cases, the tenure of land is different than the ownership of the resource on the land. For example, among the Twareg of Niger, rights to the harvest of Panicum laetum for food belongs to the household, groups or fractions that own the land, but Cenchrus biflorus grains can be harvested by anyone anywhere126, perhaps because the latter is more abundant and at the same time less valuable. The Tonga have no legal rights to honey or wild plants found on their private farmland127.
There is usually no tenure associated with the harvesting of
thatch for roofing. But in one case, that of the Tiv of northern Nigeria,
thatching grass can only come from one's fallow field128. Finally,
although resources may be open to all members of the social unit, not everyone
has equal rights. In some cases, chiefs and kings tend to have priority. For
example among the Tallensi of northeastern Ghana/southwestern Burkina Faso, all
big fish and special portions of hunted or dead wildlife go first to the chief
then to the hunter. All stray animals, brass and copper found in the bush or
farmland are also given to the chief129.
Ownership and actual use are not necessarily synonymous. Whether the resources owned by a social unit will be used by its members depends on several factors. In the first place, although theoretically the land belongs to the social unit, a member's rights to its resources are based on continual exercise of those rights. If any area is abandoned then it reverts to the communal property of the social unit and can be used by any other member. Most people prefer to remain on the land they have come to know best, thus they tend to continuously occupy, and manage an area as if they owned it. Second, an area may belong to the social unit, but in any given year, only a small proportion of the members will actually use it, because of distance, availability of alternative resources and areas, changing needs, etc. Thus, the actual pressure on the resources is lower than would be expected (see BOX 2.42).
Among the Maasai each family's de facto, usufruct rights are maintained with long term use of the same area, thus people manage the land as if they own it. In addition, their rights are assured only if they participate effectively in the age-set structure130. Similar observations have been made among the Dinka of Kongor131. The Kikuyu have to maintain their rights, especially to the exclusive cattle posts, by showing continual use, such as actual grazing, frequent visits, and renewal of boundary markers132. De facto ownership of camps, and an unspecified minimum pasture area around it, are recognized by the Twareg of Niger after 4 consecutive years of use133.
The territory of the Bushmen, such as the /Gwi can cover
10,000 sq.km (diameter of 110 km) but only a small portion is intensively used
during any year. The rest is used to follow migratory animals, and reserved for
times of famine134. The Moroccan Berbers close off certain pastures
throughout a portion of the year, agdal, in order to preserve
forage, and to ensure equitable use by herders, but in reality, only about 10%
of right-holders will actually send their livestock
Among the Toucouleur of Senegal, land tenure rules are more strictly enforced in more fertile land136. The Turkana, who live in a more arid zone, enforce their rights and rules more than the Pokot who live in a more semi-humid zone. In addition, rules are usually relaxed in the wet season when resources are abundant137. In southern Darfur (Sudan) among the agropastoralists, tenure rights become more individualized as the land becomes more important; for example river flooded land for cultivation is privately owned, while grazing in unimproved range is communal at the higher social levels138. For the Dinka of Kongor, ownership of pastures is clearer in the more utilized areas, such as the temporary swamplands (toich) and highlands, than in the less frequented eastern plains139.
The control that the Moors in the Guidimakha region of Mauritania have over their territory depends on the size and power of the subtribe. Where they were weak, the Fulani were able to infiltrate into peripheral areas if they had a stronger politico-military organization and better fighters140. The Twareg of northern Niger have a strong centralized hierarchy of chieftainships, with warrior castes, and a leader, amenokal, responsible for ensuring defense and control of the territory141. Most Fulani groups are internally cohesive but politically weak and fragmented, and prefer to move on (migratory drift) than to fight usurpers, for example the Fellata of Sudan, and Fulani of Senegal. But some Fulani have developed strong centralized empires, such as the Macina of Mali and the Sokoto Caliphate of Nigeria that was able to subjugate the Hausa Empire.
The Lahawin, originally a section of the Kababish in north Kordofan (Sudan), left their territory around 1870 and moved to the land of the Shukriya. Since they were able to establish good relations, they almost came to be seen as Shukriya, and considered themselves to have more rights to those pastures than other outsiders who arrived at the same time, such as the Fulani, Beni Amer from Ethiopia, and Rashaida Arabs from Arabia142.
The Tonga, who do not have a centralized hierarchy, formally
recognize clan-lands, but are continuously fighting over land. The council of
elders settles disputes but has no power to enforce it143. Among the
Lowiili of southern Burkina Faso, if internal relations are good, then there
will be overlap in actual use of land between communities, but if not, then they
will tend to avoid using overlapping or boundary areas144.
Many pastoral and hunter-gatherer groups provide permission freely to outsiders in good times. Some recorded examples are the Bor Dinka of Kongor145, the Samburu146, the Ghana and !Kung Bushmen of Kalahari147, and the Bedouins of the northwestern coast of Egypt148. More resource sharing occurs during times of drought and stress, and most groups will not refuse permission to outsiders, but it is usually asked only in times of dire need. Some examples are the Turkana149, the Twareg of Ahaggar150, the Maasai151, and the Dinka of Kongor152. Among the Bedouin of the Sinai, the traditional territory is very distinct, but because of high variability in resources, neighbours are routinely given permission to use the rainy season flushes of dense vegetation153. The!Xo Bushmen have an intricate system of cooperation between up to 7 bands in adjacent territories that allows enough flexibility for alleviating local droughts154. Outsiders could use Bushmen territory only with permission and even then it could be regulated so as to prevent over-use155. In some cases, this flexibility in land rights has led some groups into trouble. For example, the Hottentots of South Africa would grant permission to strangers to use land, which Europeans then interpreted as fixed title and abrogated their lands156.
Permission to use wells is just as flexible as land, and often
defines the use of land by outsiders. It can be given freely, or upon payment of
fees or contribution of manpower. For example, among the Kel Adrar Twareg,
outsiders can use wells only if passing through157. The Somali give
permission to outsiders to use wells if they pay or establish a long term
contract with the owner of wells158. Among the Borana of southern
Ethiopia outsiders can use the well if they petition the well
council159. Outsiders using Zaghawa wells must first ask permission
and can only use them after the clan has160. Among the Tonga
outsiders can use wells if they contribute to its
Within a pastoral group's territory, certain areas are often totally protected or reserved for certain periods of the year. These reserves may be exceptions rather than the rule in sub-sahara Africa162, but more pastoralists have reserves than was previously thought. This section discusses three kinds of reserves and protected areas: those concerned with grazing, and regenerating degraded areas, areas where wood gathering/cutting are prohibited or regulated, and sacred areas.
Areas reserved for grazing can be divided into reserves of transit routes, and range reserves proper. The few records available on transit reserves show that they are primarily aimed at keeping open a route between cultivated areas for livestock to pass or to gain access to water points (see BOX 2.45). Range reserves can be large or small (micro) areas. Large range reserves are either seasonal or cover several years, but no record was found of permanent range closure. There are several kinds of large range reserves. One kind are aimed at preventing agricultural expansion into grazing areas, and reducing the need for fencing. Another kind involve the closure of certain pastures in the wet season to allow good forage for the dry season. A third type of large range reserve constitutes a drought reserve, i.e. preserving an area in normal times as a fall-back during a drought. A fourth type is aimed at allowing degraded areas to regenerate. Micro-reserves are established around settlements, water points, and holy places, and are used only by special types of livestock or only during ceremonial periods (see BOX 2.45).
The Macina Fulani had a system of reserving cattle routes and access tracks for livestock free from cultivation163. In eastern Sudan access routes to the main rivers, mashari, were left uncultivated for the pastoralists164. The separation of range from farmland is a type of land use planning aimed at checking the expansion of cultivation into good rangeland. A few groups, mostly agropastoral, have been recorded to formally prohibit cultivation in areas marked as rangeland, including the Tonga of southern Zambia165, the Ngwaketse of Botswana166, the Kikuyu of Kenya167, and the Luo of Kenya168.
Some range reserves are aimed at allowing forage to grow unhampered in the wet season, which are then grazed during the dry season. Some examples are the Sukuma of southern Lake Victoria169, the Turkana170, the Twareg of Ahaggar171, and the II Chamus of northern Kenya172. Among the Berbers of Morocco, the agdals are closed to grazing, or open to only certain types of livestock during specific seasons. They are usually adjacent to dry season water points, and/or to cultivated areas. In the latter case, they are reserved for harvest time when all labour is engaged on the farm173. Among the northern Somali, the local chiefs could impose penalties on those who illegally entered the xirmo or dry season reserves174. The dry season reserves of the Pokot of Kenya are guarded and regulated by the council of elders, and may cover many thousands of hectares175. These Pokot reserves often were imposed on areas with termite-resistant grasses, and fines imposed on trespassers176.
Among the II Chamus of Kenya, two types of dry season reserves (karantili and kapkelelwa) are used successively depending on the elders' decisions177. Each neighbourhood of the Maasai of Meruishi area have dry season reserves, one dokoya unkishu to be used early to mid dry season, and the other enkaroni to be used in the late dry season. Elders of the neighbourhood decide upon the date of opening of these reserves and ensure that permanent settlements are not built on them178. Among the Kikuyu, fallow land can be closed to grazing, by putting certain marks on the boundaries179.
Each year, the Basotho of Botswana set aside a portion of their grazing area (usually the same area every year) for rest to protect thatching grass and to provide spring grazing for milk cows and draft animals180. These reserves are called maboella. The decision, made by the village headman, depends on rainfall, the condition of animals, and other factors, and is announced at the village meeting (kgotla). An officer, modisa is appointed custodian of the maboella, and is responsible for impounds trespassing animals, but every member of the community is expected to report trespass to the headman181.
A few records exist of groups reserving certain areas for use only in droughts. One example is the Rendille of Kenya182. The Twareg owned estates in the south, where farmers who paid them tribute also reserved their grazing lands for the Twareg in times of drought183. The Tilemsi of Niafounke in Mali also had drought reserves, but it appears that this system was eventually abandoned by the herders because the pastures were invaded by toxic plants184, perhaps due to prolonged rest.
A couple of groups reserve range areas when they are degraded in order to allow them to regenerate. The chiefs of northern Burkina Faso could decree that after intensive grazing, certain wells or watering points should not be used until the pastures around them regenerated185. And the Berbers of Morocco close off heavily degraded areas to allow regeneration186.
Small or micro-reserves have been recorded in a few cases. The
Gabra of northern Kenya had ritual holy places, often on top of mountains, that
belonged to each phratry or subtribe, and was used for age-set
initiations every 14-21 years. The pastures around these holy places belonged to
the subtribes and were reserved for the periods of ceremony187. The
Macina Fulani reserve a portion of communal range for nursing
cows188, and according to the Dina code, households have the right to
permanently exclude others from small plots of delta (bourgou) pasture around
their settlement for draft animals and milking cows189. Similarly,
the Songhay agropastoralists of Fantio village habitually reserve a radius of
3-4 km around the village for wet season grazing190. The Maasai
reserve a portion of the range around their homestead, or a group of homesteads,
called olopololi, as grazing areas for young livestock. The size of
the area varies with need (e.g. is greater in the dry season). It can be 100-800
ha. according to one account191, and up to 5 km radius according to
another192. In the case of Meruishi area of Kajiado District, the
olopololi make up 20% of the rangelands193. Among the Twareg of
Gourma, the area between the domestic camp (milk herd) and the natural ponds is
not allowed to be grazed at all during the dry season, and the main herd has to
camp behind the milk herd (i.e. farther from the water
Sacred areas are often associated with cultural rituals, such as rainmaking, sacrifices to totems, earth spirits, and burial grounds. They may cover a single or grove of trees, special hills, water points, and other unusual landscapes. Members of the community are prohibited from performing certain activities in them, including hunting, gathering, wood cutting, cultivating, grazing, etc. In some cases, trees are deliberately planted on them. In most cases, these areas remain sacred for ever, but in a few cases, because of the mobility of the people, they last only a few generations. The extent of these sacred areas is usually small in relation to the total landscape, but in a few cases their cumulative area can be quite significant (see BOX 2.46). At the very least, they act as in-situ gene banks for some of the local plant and wildlife species.
Sacred areas, representing earth spirits, peace, rain, etc., and used for ritual purposes have been observed among quite a few groups. Some examples are the iiri of the Mbeere of Kenya198, and the ithembo of the Kamba of Kenya199. Other examples are the people of northern Burkina Faso200, the Jie of western Turkana District, who have one for each subtribe201, the Tonga202, and the Kikuyu of Kenya203. They have also been recorded in parts of Nigeria204, but it is not clear in connection with which ethnic groups.
Some sacred groves are established on burial grounds of ancestors and especially chiefs and kings. For example, the Nyakyusa of southwestern Tanzania plant trees on the burial sites of their chiefs205, and the Borana of northern Kenya plant trees around the graves of their ancestors and prohibit any tree cutting on these sites206.
Most studies report the existence of sacred areas, but do not
estimate their individual or cumulative size. A few that do, show varying
dimensions. One earth shrine of the Lowiili covered approximately 5 sq.
miles207. There are at least 200 sacred groves in two locations in
the Kirinyaga District protected by the Kikuyu. Their size varies between 1/10
to 3 acres208. In Mbeere (Kenya) the Colonial administration listed
more than 100 sacred groves ranging in size from 1/4 to 3 ha.209.
Among the Tallensi a half a mile's walk...takes one past 2 or 3 earth
shrines210. Although almost all sacred groves are protected for
a very long time, some, as among the Tonga of Zambia are only 2-3 generations
Most pastoral groups do not have an internal police force, which raises the question of how the rules and regulations discussed in the previous section, are maintained and enforced. Some of the rules on land use are so fundamental, that they appear to be taken for granted as inviolable, and are widely respected by all groups. These fundamental rules are first come first serve, rights of historical precedence, and rights of continual occupancy. These rules, collectively can be described as a fairness ethic, and do not require formal enforcement since they are embodied in the moral culture of all groups, for example as shown by the Turkana212, and the Fulani of Yatenga213. Their violation, when it does occur, is generally resolved by fights or wars.
More complicated rules require some form of informal or formal law enforcement procedure. Informal procedures are part of the social fabric of pastoral societies, where the kinship system and the rules and obligations set up by the culture provide the stabilizing force. ... rights must be respected, duties performed, the sentiments binding the members upheld, or else the social order would be so insecure that the material needs of existence [acquired through communal cooperation] could no longer be satisfied.214 The power of local traditions is so strong, that, no one would even dream of breaking them215. Social ostracism is a powerful tool used by society to keep its members in line, and includes social rebuke, shame, or different degrees of social isolation. The society also uses praise and social rewards to reinforce positive actions. The belief in and use of curses can be a powerful tool for ensuring adherence to rules. In addition, rules of reciprocal obligations are daily reinforcers of regulations concerning tenure, consumption, protection, etc. of natural resources (see BOX 2.47). Once the social order and the moral culture are destroyed, these social enforcement rules loose most if not all of their power.
According to one account, the traditional African society is
not so much afraid of being poor, as of being ashamed216. The Maasai
regularly use social rebuke and avoidance of the individual and his household
who fails to adhere to good management217. Among the Fulani,
sanctions are meted out in the form of rewarding praise for positive, goal
fulfilling payoffs, or punishment, generally in degrees of social isolation, for
serious transgressions of norms or for failure218. The Kikuyu
loosely enforce the customary restrictions on the use of woodlands through
neighborhood consensus and the anger of local residents219. Among the
Ghana Bushmen unwelcome guests are given permission to use the land but are then
eased out of the band through social ostracism, thus permission to
join the band is rarely sought unless they feel that they will be
welcomed220. Among the Samburu of Kenya, the belief in curses is very
strong and is used to sanction decisions, punishments and other forms of
enforcement of rules221. Reciprocal altruism, i.e. do
good to someone knowing that you can ask a favor in return, in effect enforces
Another form of informal law enforcement procedure is the traditional relationship between the people and their leaders. In most cases, the political hierarchy is accountable and answerable to the people. In other words, in most cases the people can abandon an oppressive, inefficient chief who does not perform well, is weak in enforcing rules, and does not respect his share of social obligations. The political power of the leader, and his ability to enforce rules, lies in the balance that he can achieve between power/authority, and responsibility/obligations225.
Thus, the social structure defines the source of the power needed for enforcing rules. The means of enforcing rules vary among different groups. Some have an informal police force, such as a warrior caste, or official supervisors who monitor the activities of their people or of outsiders. But most groups rely on the observations of each individual member to report transgressions and trespass. Some groups impose fees and penalties for transgression of rules. But the ultimate means, often used when all else fails, is confrontation, fights, and in the case of inter-tribal disputes, warfare (see BOX 2.48).
The warrior caste of the Twareg often was used by the leaders as a political chip to prevent internal dissent and to gain concessions from other groups. The II Chamus leaders used the members of the II Murran age-set (18-30 year old males) to supervise and enforce the traditional grazing controls226. But most groups rely on monitoring by every member in their daily activities, rather than a formal security force. For example, among the Ait Ben Yacoub Berbers, trespass, whether tolerated or not, is easily detected by the herders who spend most of their time on the collective land and know who should use it. Development experts and government agents insist on fences because they can't tell the livestock apart, and can't challenge a herder who claims to be of the collective227. The Bushmen know that the more scarce the resources, the more chances of being found trespassing because one has to stay longer to find sufficient amount of resources, and only certain areas have abundant resources, so the chances that others find you are high228.
Some groups impose penalties for breaking rules (see section 220.127.116.11). Among the Lowiili of southern Burkina Faso, all stray animals (resulting usually from a lack of respect of rules by the herders), are said to belong to the earth shrine, and can only be redeemed into the owner's household upon sacrifices of grain, chicken, etc.229
The principles of power and fighting are used to maintain
order and discipline among the Somali230. Among the Turkana physical
fights and confrontation are ultimate means of enforcing rules. These fights may
end at elder's court under the tree, but whatever is decided there may only be
valid until the next confrontation where a new court may decide
differently231. Many groups, such as the Maasai232, are
prepared to defend with force their tribal or intra-tribal boundaries if
In discussing descriptive knowledge, management techniques, and organization of management in that order, this chapter tried to lay the foundation of discussions on LKMS at every step. Through their observation and intimate knowledge of their physical environment, pastoralists have devised techniques for managing (harvesting, improving, protecting, regenerating, etc.) natural resources. Rules and regulations enshrined within the traditions of the society ensure the smooth functioning of the system by coordinating the activities of each member. The rules primarily concerned with natural resources include tenure, grazing controls, protection and reservation of valuable resources. It has been argued by some that the pastoralist does not improve nor manage rangelands, and only uses it in a predatory way, but by keeping a low pressure on resources and high mobility and dispersion of his livestock, he is able to maintain an equilibrium233. This chapter has shown that the pastoralist is much more of an active manager of his environment than implied by these authors, and that mobility and dispersion are just a few of the deliberate (rather than inadvertent) strategies that he relies on.
Both socio-political expedience, and ecological exigencies define the particular form of techniques and rules practiced by each group. Their objectives are to ensure their survival and to sustain the productivity of their natural system in the long term. Many of their activities have evolved and adapted so that they simultaneously result, in the long term, in sustained production and sustained productivity of the natural resources. A remark made about India can apply just as well to pastoralists in Africa: ... any particular resource of a given region used to be utilized over generations by a small homogenous breeding group which expected the same resources to sustain its future generations as well. These conditions were particularly favourable for the evolution of cultural traits ensuring long-term sustainable utilization of natural resources.234
Are these activities deliberate attempts to conserve natural resources? Is the pastoralist a conservationist by nature? Considerable confusion and disagreement surrounds this issue. The problem probably stems from a lack of a clear definition of conservation. For some, it invokes the western environmentalist's objectives of conserving resources in their natural or pristine state. Most of these authors maintain that the pastoralist cannot be a conservationist because his activities are not deliberate attempts to protect resources from use. Their activities may result in proper management and sustenance in the long run, but they do not see it as conservation235.
For others, it merely refers to the preservation or protection of resources on a temporary basis so that it can be used when it is needed the most. These authors talk, for example, of conserving the forage during the wet season so that it can be grazed in the dry season, or of preferring wide-diameter wells because the high labour required to pull the water will limit the number of animals and conserve the resource further into the dry season236. Others say that the low nutritional needs of the pastoralist, and his low material demands, result in a production strategy that conserves nature237. And for still others, it is not clear at all which definition they are using238.
The discussion of the organization of management and the means of enforcing rules leads to the obvious conclusion that the social structure defines the power base on which rules are enforced. As has been noted among the Maasai, the viability of the organization rests on a system of mutual aid, information network, power lines that reinforce, reward and punishment, cooperation to eliminate competition and conserve energy239. It also defines the way resource management techniques and rules will react to external forces, and how the society will adapt to new technologies and management strategies proposed by development workers. Thus, pastoral technologies should not be seen as isolated from their overall social framework.
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