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Nomadic pastoralism is a form of pastoralism when livestock are herded in order to find fresh pastures on which to graze. True nomads follow an irregular pattern of movement, in contrast with transhumance where seasonal pastures are fixed.However this distinction is often not observed and the term nomad used for both—in historical cases the regularity of movements is often unknown in any case. The herded livestock include cows, buffalos, yaks, llamas, sheep, goats, reindeer, horses, donkeys or camels, or mixtures of species. Nomadic pastoralism is commonly practised in regions with little arable land, typically in the developing world, especially in the steppe lands north of the agricultural zone of Eurasia. Of the estimated 30–40 million nomadic pastoralists worldwide, most are found in central Asia and the Sahel region of North and West Africa, such as Fulani, Tuaregs, and Toubou, with some also in the Middle East, such as traditionally Bedouins, and in other parts of Africa, such as Nigeria and Somalia. Increasing numbers of stock may lead to overgrazing of the area and desertification if lands are not allowed to fully recover between one grazing period and the next. Increased enclosure and fencing of land has reduced the amount of land for this practice. There is substantive uncertainty over the extent to which the various causes for degradation affect grassland. Different causes have been identified which include overgrazing, mining, agricultural reclamation, pests and rodents, soil properties, tectonic activity, and climate change. Simultaneously, it is maintained that some, such as overgrazing and overstocking, may be overstated while others, such as climate change, mining and agricultural reclamation, may be under reported. In this context, there is also uncertainty as to the long term effect of human behavior on the grassland as compared to non-biotic factors.
Nomadic pastoralism was a result of the Neolithic revolution and the rise of agriculture. During that revolution, humans began domesticating animals and plants for food and started forming cities. Nomadism generally has existed in symbiosis with such settled cultures trading animal products (meat, hides, wool, cheese and other animal products) for manufactured items not produced by the nomadic herders. Henri Fleisch tentatively suggested the Shepherd Neolithic industry of Lebanon may date to the Epipaleolithic and that it may have been used by one of the first cultures of nomadic shepherds in the Beqaa valley.Andrew Sherratt demonstrates that "early farming populations used livestock mainly for meat, and that other applications were explored as agriculturalists adapted to new conditions, especially in the semi‐arid zone."
In the past it was asserted that pastoral nomads left no presence archaeologically or were impoverished, but this has now been challenged,and was clearly not so for many ancient Eurasian nomads, who have left very rich kurgan burial sites. Pastoral nomadic sites are identified based on their location outside the zone of agriculture, the absence of grains or grain-processing equipment, limited and characteristic architecture, a predominance of sheep and goat bones, and by ethnographic analogy to modern pastoral nomadic peoples Juris Zarins has proposed that pastoral nomadism began as a cultural lifestyle in the wake of the 6200 BC climatic crisis when Harifian pottery making hunter-gatherers in the Sinai fused with Pre-Pottery Neolithic B agriculturalists to produce the Munhata culture, a nomadic lifestyle based on animal domestication, developing into the Yarmoukian and thence into a circum-Arabian nomadic pastoral complex, and spreading Proto-Semitic languages.
In Bronze Age Central Asia, nomadic populations are associated with the earliest transmissions of millet and wheat grains through the region that eventually became central for the Silk Road.By the medieval period in Central Asia, nomadic communities exhibited isotopically diverse diets, suggesting a multitude of subsistence strategies.
Often traditional nomadic groups settle into a regular seasonal pattern of transhumance. An example of a normal nomadic cycle in the northern hemisphere is:
The movements in this example are about 180 to 200 km. Camps are established in the same place each year; often semi-permanent shelters are built in at least one place on this migration route.
In sub-regions such as Chad, the nomadic pastoralist cycle is as follows:
In Chad, the sturdy villages are called hillé, the less sturdy villages are called dankhout and the tents ferik.
David Christian made the following observations about pastoralism.The agriculturist lives from domesticated plants and the pastoralist lives from domesticated animals. Since animals are higher on the food chain, pastoralism supports a thinner population than agriculture. Pastoralism predominates where low rainfall makes farming impractical. Full pastoralism required the Secondary products revolution when animals began to be used for wool, milk, riding and traction as well as meat. Where grass is poor herds must be moved, which leads to nomadism. Some peoples are fully nomadic while others live in sheltered winter camps and lead their herds into the steppe in summer. Some nomads travel long distances, usually north in summer and south in winter. Near mountains, herds are led uphill in summer and downhill in winter (transhumance). Pastoralists often trade with or raid their agrarian neighbors.
Christian distinguished ‘Inner Eurasia’, which was pastoral with a few hunter-gatherers in the far north, from ‘Outer Eurasia’, a crescent of agrarian civilizations from Europe through India to China. High civilization is based on agriculture where tax-paying peasants support landed aristocrats, kings, cities, literacy and scholars. Pastoral societies are less developed and as a result, according to Christian, more egalitarian. One tribe would often dominate its neighbors, but these ‘empires’ usually broke up after a hundred years or so. The heartland of pastoralism is the Eurasian steppe. In the center of Eurasia pastoralism extended south to Iran and surrounded agrarian oasis cities. When pastoral and agrarian societies went to war, horse-borne mobility counterbalanced greater numbers. Attempts by agrarian civilizations to conquer the steppe usually failed until the last few centuries. Pastoralists frequently raided and sometimes collected regular tribute from their farming neighbors. Especially in north Chinaand Iran, they would sometimes conquer agricultural societies, but these dynasties were usually short-lived and broke up when the nomads became ‘civilized’ and lost their warlike virtues.
Nomadic pastoralism was historically widespread throughout less fertile regions of Earth. It is found in areas of low rainfall such as the Arabian Peninsula inhabited by Bedouins, as well as Northeast Africa inhabited by Somalis (where camel, cattle, sheep and goat nomadic pastoralism is especially common).Nomadic transhumance is also common in areas of harsh climate, such as Northern Europe and Russia inhabited by the indigenous Sami people, Nenets people and Chukchis. There are an estimated 30–40 million nomads in the world. Pastoral nomads and semi-nomadic pastoralists form a significant but declining minority in such countries as Saudi Arabia (probably less than 3%), Iran (4%), and Afghanistan (at most 10%). They comprise less than 2% of the population in the countries of North Africa except Libya and Mauritania.
The Eurasian steppe has been largely populated by pastoralist nomads since the late prehistoric times, with a succession of peoples known by the names given to them by surrounding literate sedentary societies, including the Bronze Age Proto-Indo-Europeans, and later Proto-Indo-Iranians, Scythians, Sarmatians, Cimmerians, Massagetae, Alans, Pechenegs, Cumans, Kipchaks, Karluks, Saka, Yuezhi, Wusun, Jie, Xiongnu, Xianbei, Khitan, Pannonian Avars, Huns, Mongols, Dzungars and various Turkics.
The Mongols in what is now Mongolia, Russia and China, and the Tatars or Turkic people of Eastern Europe and Central Asia were nomadic people who practiced nomadic transhumance on harsh Asian steppes. Some remnants of these populations are nomadic to this day. In Mongolia, about 40% of the population continues to live a traditional nomadic lifestyle.In China, it is estimated that a little over five million herders are dispersed over the pastoral counties, and more than 11 million over the semi-pastoral counties. This brings the total of the (semi)nomadic herder population to over 16 million, in general living in remote, scattered and resource-poor communities.
In the Middle Hills and Himalaya of Nepal, people living above about 2,000 m practise transhumance and nomadic pastoralism because settled agriculture becomes less productive due to steep slopes, cooler temperatures and limited irrigation possibilities. Distances between summer and winter pasture may be short, for example in the vicinity of Pokhara where a valley at about 800 meters elevation is less than 20 km. from alpine pastures just below the Annapurna Himalaya, or distances may be 100 km or more. For example, in Rapti zone some 100 km west of Pokhara the Kham Magar move their herds between winter pastures just north of India and summer pastures on the southern slopes of Dhaulagiri Himalaya. In far western Nepal, ethnic Tibetans living in Dolpo and other valleys north among the high Himalaya moved their herds north to winter on the plains of the upper Brahmaputra basin in Tibet proper, until this practice was prohibited after China took over Tibet in 1950–51.
The nomadic Sami people, an indigenous people of northern Finland, Sweden, Norway, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia, practise a form of nomadic transhumance based on reindeer. In the 14th and 15th century, when reindeer population was sufficiently reduced that Sami could not subsist on hunting alone, some Sami, organized along family lines, became reindeer herders. Each family has traditional territories on which they herd, arriving at roughly the same time each season. Only a small fraction of Sami have subsisted on reindeer herding over the past century; as the most colorful part of the population, they are well known. But as elsewhere in Europe, transhumance is dying out.
The Mesta was an association of sheep owners, (Spanish nobility and religious orders) that had an important economic and political role in medieval Castile. To preserve the rights of way of its transhumant herds through cañadas , the Mesta acted against small peasants.
In Chad, nomadic pastoralists include the Zaghawa, Kreda, and Mimi. Farther north in Egypt and western Libya, the Bedouins also practice pastoralism.
Sometimes nomadic pastoralists move their herds across international borders in search of new grazing terrain or for trade. This cross-border activity can occasionally lead to tensions with national governments as this activity is often informal and beyond their control and regulation. In East Africa, for example, over 95% of cross-border trade is through unofficial channels and the unofficial trade of live cattle, camels, sheep and goats from Ethiopia sold to Somalia, Kenya and Djibouti generates an estimated total value of between US$250 and US$300 million annually (100 times more than the official figure).This trade helps lower food prices, increase food security, relieve border tensions and promote regional integration. However, there are also risks as the unregulated and undocumented nature of this trade runs risks, such as allowing disease to spread more easily across national borders. Furthermore, governments are unhappy with lost tax revenue and foreign exchange revenues.
There have been initiatives seeking to promote cross-border trade and also document it, in order to both stimulate regional growth and food security, but also to allow the effective vaccination of livestock.Initiatives include Regional Resilience Enhancement Against Drought (RREAD), the Enhanced Livelihoods in Mandera Triangle/Enhanced Livelihoods in Southern Ethiopia (ELMT/ELSE) as part of the Regional Enhanced Livelihoods in Pastoral Areas (RELPA) programme in East Africa, and the Regional Livelihoods Advocacy Project (REGLAP) funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO).
The Evenks are a Tungusic people of Northern Asia. In Russia, the Evenks are recognised as one of the indigenous peoples of the Russian North, with a population of 38,396. In China, the Evenki form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognised by the People's Republic of China, with a population of 30,875. There are 537 Evenks in Mongolia called Khamnigan in Mongolian language.
A nomad is a member of a community without fixed habitation which regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, pastoral nomads, and tinkers or trader nomads. In the twentieth century, population of nomadic pastoral tribes slowly decreased, reaching to an estimated 30–40 million nomads in the world as of 1995.
Transhumance is a type of pastoralism or nomadism, a seasonal movement of livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures. In montane regions, it implies movement between higher pastures in summer and lower valleys in winter. Herders have a permanent home, typically in valleys. Generally only the herds travel, with a certain number of people necessary to tend them, while the main population stays at the base. In contrast, horizontal transhumance is more susceptible to being disrupted by climatic, economic, or political change.
The siida is a Sami local community that has existed from time immemorial. A siida, or a "reindeer pastoralistic district," is a Sami reindeer foraging area, a group for reindeer herding and a corporation working for the economic benefit of its members. The reindeer herding siida has formed as an adaptation of ancient siida principles to large-scale nomadic reindeer herding. It is termed a sameby in Swedish law, reinbeitedistrikt in Norwegian law, and paliskunta in Finnish law. The pastoralistic organisation differs slightly between countries, except in Russia, where kolkhoz has replaced these earlier organisations.
A horse culture is a tribal group or community whose day-to-day life revolves around the herding and breeding of horses. Beginning with the domestication of the horse on the steppes of Eurasia, the horse transformed each society that adopted its use. Notable examples are the Mongols of Mongolia, the Scythian and Turkic nomads of Central Asia, and the Native Americans of the Great Plains after horses were imported from Europe, particularly from Spain, during the 16th century.
Pastoralism is a form of animal husbandry where domesticated animals known as livestock are released onto large vegetated outdoor lands (pastures) for grazing, historically by nomadic people who moved around with their herds. The species involved include cattle, camels, goats, yaks, llamas, reindeer, horse and sheep.
In cultural anthropology, sedentism is the practice of living in one place for a long time. As of 2020, the majority of people belong to sedentary cultures. In evolutionary anthropology and archaeology, sedentism takes on a slightly different sub-meaning, often applying to the transition from nomadic society to a lifestyle that involves remaining in one place permanently. Essentially, sedentism means living in groups permanently in one place.
The Eurasian nomads were a large group of nomadic peoples from the Eurasian Steppe, who often appear in history as invaders of Europe from Western Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Asia, and Southern Asia.
The Changtang is a part of the high altitude Tibetan Plateau in western and northern Tibet extending into southeastern Ladakh, India, with vast highlands and giant lakes. From eastern Ladakh, the Changtang stretches approximately 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) east into Tibet as far as modern Qinghai. The Changtang is home to the Changpa, a nomadic Tibetan people. The two largest settlement within the Tibetan Changtang are Rutog Town the seat of Rutog County and Domar Township the seat of Shuanghu County.
The Eurasian Steppe, also called the Great Steppe or the steppes, is the vast steppe ecoregion of Eurasia in the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome. It stretches from Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Western Russia, Siberia, Kazakhstan, Xinjiang, Mongolia, and Manchuria, with one major exclave, the Pannonian steppe or Puszta, located mostly in Hungary.
Yaylak is a Turkic term meaning "summer highland pasture". The converse term is gishlag, a winter pasture. The latter one gave rise to the term kishlak for rural settlements in Central Asia. Transcriptions of the term include yaylak, yaylaq, یایلاق, ailoq, jaylaw, or jayloo, and yeylāq (Persian).
The Prehistory of Siberia is marked by several archaeologically distinct cultures. In the Chalcolithic, the cultures of western and southern Siberia were pastoralists, while the eastern taiga and the tundra were dominated by hunter-gatherers until the late Middle Ages and even beyond. Substantial changes in society, economics and art indicate the development of nomadism in the Central Asian steppes in the first millennium BC.
A pastoral society is a social group of pastoralists, whose way of life is based on pastoralism, and is typically nomadic. Daily life is centered upon the tending of herds or flocks.
Reindeer in Russia include tundra and forest reindeer and are subspecies of Rangifer tarandus. Tundra reindeer include the Novaya Zemlya (R.t.pearsoni) and Lapland subspecies and the Siberian tundra reindeer.
Fulani herdsmen or Fulani pastoralists are nomadic or semi-nomadic Fulani people whose primary occupation is raising livestock. The Fulani herdsmen are largely located in the Sahel and semi-arid parts of West Africa, but due to relatively recent changes in climate patterns, many herdsmen have moved further south into the savannah and tropical forest belt of West Africa. The herdsmen are found in countries such as Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Guinea, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, and Cameroon. In Senegal, they inhabit northeastern Ferlo and the southeastern part of the country. In many of these countries the Fula often constitute a minority group,
Begash in an archaeological site in the Koksu River valley in historic Zhetysu, Kazazkstan. The site is situated in piedmont steppes above the Zhalgyzagash River, a tributary of the Koksu River. The people of Begash were transhumant pastoralists who mainly herded sheep and goats. They likely used the site primarily as a place of winter residence. The people of Begash buried their dead first in cist and later in kurgan burials. So far, the earliest direct evidence for domesticated grains in Central Asia can be found at Begash, with the earliest evidence for the presence of both domesticated free-threshing wheat and broomcorn millet.
The Steppe Route was an ancient overland route through the Eurasian Steppe that was an active precursor of the Silk Road. Silk and horses were traded as key commodities; secondary trade included furs, weapons, musical instruments, precious stones and jewels. This route extended for approximately 10,000 km (6,200 mi). Trans-Eurasian trade through the Steppe Route precedes the conventional date for the origins of the Silk Road by at least two millennia.
Grassland accounts for China’s largest land resource, covering nearly 41 percent of the national land area. Grassland in the Chinese context comprises widely varying eco-types ranging from the meadows and forest steppes of former Manchuria in the Northeast; and the high, alpine pastures of the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau; to the (semi)arid steppes and deserts in China’s Great West. Due to this geographical and ecological variety, the utilization of grassland is not limited to grazing and forage production, but extends to the exploitation of grassland and forest by-products, as well as the exploitation of mineral resources. Of the total of around 393 million hectares of grassland in China, 84 percent or 331 million hectares is deemed usable for grazing.
Reindeer herding is when reindeer are herded by people in a limited area. Currently, reindeer are the only semi-domesticated animal which naturally belongs to the North. Reindeer herding is conducted in nine countries: Norway, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Greenland, Alaska, Mongolia, China and Canada. A small herd is also maintained in Scotland.