Comments on “Relevance of Key Resource Areas for Large-Scale Movements of Livestock”
This chapter deals with the issue of so-named ‘key resource areas’. These particular localities within a landscape are endowed with resources that allow many more animals to live there than would have been expected on the basis of the ‘general’ features of that landscape or ecosystem. Scholte and Brouwer (Chapter 10) advocate the point that the resource under scrutiny in the ‘key resource area’ is not by necessity herbage; it can also be water. In deserts, oases have in fact been considered as such for millennia and people found them even worth defending at quite great cost. This is confusing, though, because indeed water is a resource for the vegetation and indeed water is a conditional necessity for most animal species; however, it is not a key resource in the sense of Illius and O'Connor (1999), because once the conditionality of the presence of water is sufficiently met there will be no further increase in herbivores. Yet, Scholte and Brouwer rightfully concentrate on floodplains and wetlands. Wetlands and especially their associated grassy floodplains have for hundreds of years played a key role in the economies of Fulani (Peul) and other cattle-herding societies. The same holds for those in southern Africa along, for example, the Zambezi, where Barotse have herded their cattle for generations, or along the Nile, where Nuer and Dinka have done the same (see, for instance, the work of Evans-Pritchard 1940). In East Africa, key resource areas have also been identified by anthropologists already in the 1940s: in areas where floodplains did not fulfil this function, mountains were catching higher amounts of monsoonal rainfall (Huntingford 1933, 1953a, b; Homewood and Rodgers 1991; McCabe 1994; Prins and Loth 1988; Sperling and Galaty 1990; Ruttan and
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