The role of pastoralism in the conservation of dryland eco systems
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The role of pastoralism in the conservation of dryland eco-systems. Presentation by League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Development(LPP), Germany Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan (LPPS), India LPP and LPPS are part of the DRYNET initiative. Overview of presentation. Introduction

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The role of pastoralism in the conservation of dryland eco systems l.jpg
The role of pastoralism in the conservation of dryland eco-systems

Presentation by

League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Development(LPP), Germany

Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan (LPPS), India

LPP and LPPS are part of the DRYNET initiative


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Overview of presentation eco-systems

  • Introduction

  • Overview of pastoralism in India

  • Advantages of pastoralism

  • Challenges

  • Pastoralism and hot topics

  • Advocacy and the future


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Pastoralism - worldwide eco-systems

  • Pastoralism definitions



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Pastoralism in India eco-systemsAn overview

  • Information on exact number of pastoralist groups, and their livestock is not well-documented.

  • They are generally referred to as „nomads“

  • In India, pastoralists are integrated into the caste system and are usually specialised in care and breeding of specific species of livestock.

  • Nomadic pastoralism is prevalent in the drylands of western India, the Deccan Plateau, and in the mountainous reaches of the Himalayas.

  • Source : Pastoralism in India: a scoping study by Vijay Paul Sharma, Ilse Kohler-Rollefson and John Morton, 2003.


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Pastoralism in India eco-systemsAn overview

  • Khurana (1999) reports that „more than 200 tribes comprising 6 per cent of the country‘s population are engaged in pastoralism“.

  • Indian pastoralists can be classified into groups that practice horizontal movement patterns and vertical movement like in the mountainous regions. Nomadic pastoralism is prevalent in the drylands of western India, the Deccan Plateau, and in the mountainous reaches of the Himalayas.

  • Source : Pastoralism in India: a scoping study by Vijay Paul Sharma, Ilse Kohler-Rollefson and John Morton, 2003.


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Pastoralism in India eco-systemsAn overview

  • Some examples of pastoralists are:

    • Golla (cattle), Kuruma (sheep) of Andhra Pradesh.

    • Monpa (yak) from Arunachal Pradesh.

    • Rabari (cattle, sheep and goats) and Bharwad (small stock) from Gujarat.

    • Kuruba (sheep) and Dhangar (sheep) from Karnataka.

    • Raika/Rabari (camel, sheep and goats) and Gujjar (buffalo and sheep) from Rajasthan.


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Pastoralism in India eco-systemsAn overview

Rebari/Raika are the most numerous pastoral group in the western part of India, and are predominant in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana.

Rebari are known as Raika in the Marwar region of Rajasthan, and this term “Raika“ carries the connotation of a camel breeder.

LPPS and LPP have studied and worked extensively with the Raika community of Rajasthan


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Pastoralism – Advantages eco-systems

  • Pastoralism is crucial for:

    • Wild plant diversity

    • Wild animal diversity

    • Domesticated Animal Diversity

    • Eco-system and Landscape diversity

    • Nutritional Diversity


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Pastoralism – Advantages eco-systemsWild plant diversity -1

  • Example from NW Yunnan (China): Tibetan transhumant agro-pastoralists use alpine and sub-alpine grasslands with yaks, cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens.

  • 1980s survey of grasslands found 243 species of Gramineae (grass), 867 species of medicinal plant, 1578 species of flowering plants and 4600 seed plants.


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Pastoralism – Advantages eco-systemsWild plant diversity -2

In an ethnobotanical study to identify good quality local grasses: Herders named 52 species of grass and fodder plantPlants were categorized according to :

  • collection method (grazing only, or by harvesting);

  • by the typical location where they grow (on flat meadows, on field edges, in fields, on slopes, on high mountains);

  • by altitude of distribution;

  • by shape of leaf;

  • by the ecological characteristics of where they grow (wetlands, drylands);

  • by whether they reproduce by flowering or not.

  • For all 52 species, herders were able to compare their nutritional value and value for use as harvested grass or as grazed grass in natural pastures. Herders identified 9 species as of particular value as fodder for livestock.

  • (Source: CBIK 2005)


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Pastoralism – Advantages eco-systemsWild animal diversity -1

  • Grazing livestock keeps open nesting habitats of birds.

  • Predator species (wolves, hyenas, leopards, lions) depend on livestock as prey and essential part of their diet (Example Gir Forest in India).

  • Chilka buffalo swimming in lake essential for fish population.


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Pastoralism – Advantages eco-systemsWild animal diversity-2

  • Use of sheep to keep vegetation open and provide nesting habitats for migratory birds in Germany.

  • Use of controlled grazing by sheep, cattle, and donkeys to re-establish sand-dune vegetation.


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Pastoralism – Advantages eco-systemsDomestic animal diversity-1

  • Livestock breed diversity is very high in pastoralist areas, according to a study conducted in the 1990s (Hall and Ruan).

  • Every pastoralist group has developed its own distinct breed (e.g. Boran cattle, Mashona cattle, Nguni cattle, Galla goat, Somali and Red Maasai sheep).

  • These breeds are repositories of very important genes (for disease resistance, hardiness,fertility, etc.).


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Pastoralism – Advantages eco-systemsDomestic animal diversity-2

  • Pastoralist livestock breeds retain many behavioural traits of their wild ancestors (e.g. urge to migrate and to defend against predators).

  • Have been bred to exploit seasonal variations in feed resources and maximise feeding competence (study by Saverio Krätli).

  • Have co-evolved with local vegetation and can convert this into food and energy – are independent of external feed and fodder inputs.

  • Pastoralists exemplify “natural food production“.


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Pastoralism – Advantages eco-systemsEco-system and Landscape diversity

Landscape diversity: Example from Rajasthan/India

“The main wealth of the desert lands of the west and north consists in the vast herds of camels, horned cattle, and sheep which roam over the sandy wastes and thrive admirably in the dry climate”.

(Imperial Gazetteer of Rajasthan, 1908)


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Pastoralism – Advantages eco-systemsEco-system and Landscape diversity

Landscape diversity: Example from Rajasthan/India

The famous livestock of Rajasthan is linked to pastoral communities …..


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Pastoralism – Advantages eco-systemsEco-system and Landscape diversity

Landscape diversity: Example from Rajasthan/India

….and specific eco-zones

Example: Camel and sheep husbandry along Aravalli Range


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Pastoralism – Advantages eco-systemsEco-system and Landscape diversity

Camel Husbandry in the Thar Desert: An ingenious, indigenous land-use system where camels range freely for much of the year; herded only during rainy season and breeding season. Camel movements are not predictable, depend on availability and location of rainfall.


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Pastoralism – Advantages eco-systemsEco-system and Landscape diversity

Camel Husbandry in the Thar Desert: Movement of camels tracked and controlled through natural behavioural patterns,branding system, and mutual information and help.During most of the year camels depend on orans and trees, in rainy season they go for grass.


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Pastoralism – Advantages eco-systemsEco-system and Landscape diversity

Camels utilise a wide variety of scattered and seasonally variable tree and grass vegetation.


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Pastoralism – Advantages eco-systemsEco-system and Landscape diversity

Adaptations

The camel pastoralists in Rajasthan travel lightly, and they often depend on the same plant resources as the camels they keep. Fallen twigs provide wood for the fires during night halts.

In addition, various edible plant parts are dried and eaten when required.

Panchkuta contains the parts of five plants (including Acacia senegal, Prosopis cineraria and Cucumis melo) that are dried and used for cooking. The plants are also part of the diet of camels.


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Pastoralism – Advantages eco-systemsNutritional Diversity

Camel milk: white gold of the desert

  • Medicinal properties

  • Especially valuable for Diabetes patients


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Pastoralism – Advantages eco-systemsNutritional Diversity

Camel milk: white gold of the desert

  • Can be made into value-added products like ice-cream and chocolate.


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Pastoralism – challenges eco-systems

  • Focusing on the western region of India, some of the challenges can be summarised as follows:

  • Decrease of pasture due to reasons like enclosure of forests, expansion of irrigated agriculture, breakdown of village institutions governing use of CPR, deterioration of pastureland due to disappearance or reduction of traditional grasses(due to presence of invasive species).

  • Little or no access to veterinary care.

  • Lack of infrastructure for processing and production of value-added livestock products (for instance,chilling plants are necessary for collection of camel milk from pastoralist herds).

  • Dependence on middlemen for marketing of products.

  • Dilemma between continuing with pastoralism and being educated.


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Pastoralism – Hot topics eco-systems

Pastoralism and climate change

  “New study results are warning that the conversion of pasturelands to croplands will be the major contributor to global warming in east Africa. “ 

“the greatest amount of contribution to global warming in the east Africa region is not going to be motor vehicles or methane emissions from livestock or conversions of forests to pastures but rather conversion of pasturelands to cropland.”

-ILRI website


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Pastoralism and Hot topics eco-systems

Pastoralism and the energy crisis

Camel demand up as oil price soars

FARMERS IN THE INDIAN STATE OF RAJASTHAN ARE REDISCOVERING THE HUMBLE CAMEL.

AS THE COST OF RUNNING GAS-GUZZLING TRACTORS SOARS, EVEN-TOED UNGULATES ARE MAKING A COMEBACK, RAISING HOPES THAT A FALL IN THE POPULATION OF THE DESERT STATE'S SIGNATURE ANIMAL CAN BE REVERSED

-Jo Johnson in the Financial Times, New Delhi, May 2 2008


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Pastoralism – Advocacy eco-systems

The Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources that was agreed upon by 109 countries in Interlaken (Switzerland) in September, 2007, recognizes the role of pastoralists (and other livestock keepers) in the conservation and sustainable use of “animal genetic resources“

LIFE NETWORK

SEGOVIA DECLN


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Pastoralism – advantages eco-systemsConclusions

  • There is ample scientific evidence for the correlation between pastoralism and biodiversity conservation.

  • The conservation of much biodiversity and many landscapes hinges upon the survival of pastoralism.

  • The survival of pastoralism depends on ability of pastoralists to market and obtain a fair price for their products.


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