Pastoralists in the Modern World

Many pastoral communities inhabited several parts of India. In northern India, Gujjar Bakarwals lived in Jammu and Kashmir, while Gaddi shepherds inhabited Himachal Pradesh; and the Bhotiyas, Sherpas, Kinnauris and Gujjar cattle herders lived in Kumaon and Garhwal regions. In Central India, Dhangars of Maharashtra reared sheep and buffalo, and traded manure with Konkan peasants for rice. The Karnataka and Andhra regions were inhabited by Gollas who herded cattle, and Kurubas and Kurumas, who reared sheep and goats. The pastoral community of Banjaras, who live in several villages across India, traded cattle and other goods for grain and fodder. In Thar Desert of Rajasthan, Raikas herded camels, sheep and goats. The colonial Indian government, which wanted to expand cultivation, occupied uncultivated lands, including pastoral lands, which led to a decline in pastures. The Criminal Tribes Act classified nomadic pastoralists as criminals, and restricted their movement. The government also imposed a grazing tax on pastoralists. All these steps led to decline of grazing lands and pastures, resulting in death of underfed cattle. Consequently, pastoralists reduced their number of cattle and searched new areas for pastures. Yet, despite restrictions, number of pastoralists in India have actually increased.

Several pastoral communities in Africa sell animal products, combine pastoralism with agriculture, or do other jobs. The Maasai community in East Africa was badly affected by colonial policies, which reduced the amount of grazing lands. Occupied grazing lands were transformed into cultivable fields. Overgrazing in available land reduced quality of pastures, while movement of Maasai people also got restricted. The British also appointed Maasai chiefs, who restricted raiding and warfare by Maasai warriors. Maasai chiefs got richer, while the rest, who lost large numbers of livestock, took to other occupations.

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