Theme 6: Pastoralism--Oral Sessions

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Pastoralism has been practiced for millennia in numerous ecosystems across the world. Throughout history, pastoral systems and in particular herding have been replaced by the commercialization of livestock production, which essentially made herders redundant in many sub-Sahara countries resulting in job losses. Herding is however still practiced in many countries, but the essential role of the herder is in many instances snubbed upon and disregarded as trivial work, hence their low social standing within the community. Literature however indicates that herding does offer many benefits over commercial paddock systems e.g. improving rural livelihoods, reviving customary practice, reducing stock theft, reducing predation and improving biodiversity management. The contribution of herders is often underestimated, even within livestock-keeping communities, but is in fact much more complicated and they do far more than meets the eye. This paper (in the form of a photo essay) is an attempt not only to give a human face to herders through a series of photographic images, but to highlight particular activities of herders in the semi-arid Namaqualand region of South Africa. The images show the complexity of herding, which is in fact an artisanal task. It depicts herders in their daily activities as botanists with an in depth botanical knowledge including, taxonomy, phytochemistry, nutritional value, toxicity, cultural, and ritual value. It also depicts herders as midwives during lambing season, practicing nursing, and shows the interaction with their guarding dogs. Furthermore, the images illustrate the gender identity with shepherdesses functioning in an extremely harsh semi-arid landscape. It also shows the interaction between herders at the water point which acts as the gathering point for the exchange of knowledge between these artisans. These results show that the value of herders in dryland farming systems deserve more recognition and they should be key players in policy development.

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Valuing the Expertise of Mobile Herders in Arid South Africa--A Photographic Essay

Pastoralism has been practiced for millennia in numerous ecosystems across the world. Throughout history, pastoral systems and in particular herding have been replaced by the commercialization of livestock production, which essentially made herders redundant in many sub-Sahara countries resulting in job losses. Herding is however still practiced in many countries, but the essential role of the herder is in many instances snubbed upon and disregarded as trivial work, hence their low social standing within the community. Literature however indicates that herding does offer many benefits over commercial paddock systems e.g. improving rural livelihoods, reviving customary practice, reducing stock theft, reducing predation and improving biodiversity management. The contribution of herders is often underestimated, even within livestock-keeping communities, but is in fact much more complicated and they do far more than meets the eye. This paper (in the form of a photo essay) is an attempt not only to give a human face to herders through a series of photographic images, but to highlight particular activities of herders in the semi-arid Namaqualand region of South Africa. The images show the complexity of herding, which is in fact an artisanal task. It depicts herders in their daily activities as botanists with an in depth botanical knowledge including, taxonomy, phytochemistry, nutritional value, toxicity, cultural, and ritual value. It also depicts herders as midwives during lambing season, practicing nursing, and shows the interaction with their guarding dogs. Furthermore, the images illustrate the gender identity with shepherdesses functioning in an extremely harsh semi-arid landscape. It also shows the interaction between herders at the water point which acts as the gathering point for the exchange of knowledge between these artisans. These results show that the value of herders in dryland farming systems deserve more recognition and they should be key players in policy development.