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Pastoral Nomad and their Movements: Nomadic Pastoralism in India & Africa

Last updated date: 16th Apr 2024
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What is Nomadic Pastoralism?

Pastoralism is a method or strategy which is related to the herding of animals such as goats, sheep and cattle. Nomadic pastoralism is a kind of pastoralism. In this pastoralism is livestock are herded to seek fresh pastures to graze. Nomads are tribes and groups of people. 

The Nomad tribe do not permanently settle in one place. They move around from one place to another to look for their livelihoods their movements have no fixed pattern. They do not have a permanent adobe. The origin of nomadic pastoralism can be found in the Middle Ages. Around 8500 BC to 6500 BC, it is said during this time the first nomadic pastoralist society developed somewhere. 

The important feature that is needed to be mentioned is that nomads usually have the same occupation i.e. they herd cattle. They also use their cattle for other purposes like dairy products such as furs, milk, curd, hides, leather, manure etc. So we can say that the pastoral nomads main feature is the movement from place to place in search of pasture for their cattle and to trade their products.

Nomadic Pastoralism in India

Many Nomads tribes in India are found that practice nomadic pastoralism. They generally live in hilly or mountainous regions. They also prefer to live in the areas containing grass, shrubs and forests etc. because it will provide them with pastures for their cattle to survive and grow. In search of such areas, they used to move from one place to another so that they could find ideal climates and temperatures for cattle such as sheep and goats.

In different states of India such as Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh etc. have a lot of tribes that practice nomadic pastoralism. Let us know about these tribes in detail.

  • Gujjar Tribe From Garhwal

The location of Garhwal is in the mountainous region of the Himalayas in Uttrakhand. A pastoral nomad tribe is found in this region called the Gujjar tribe. The origin of this tribe can be traced back to the Jammu region, but around the 19th century, the Gujjar tribe came south to the hills of Uttar Pradesh in the search of fresh pastures for their cattle.

Now, this tribe can be found wandering around the hilly areas of the Kumaon and Garhwal regions. They live in the grasslands of the Bugyals in the summertime while during winter they move to the region of Bhabar as it is covered in dry forests. This is the cyclic movement of the Gujjars between seasons.

  • Dhangars From Maharashtra 

The Dhangars tribes are found in Maharashtra. This is a are a prominent tribal community. This can be understood that the word “dhangar” is related to the wealth of cattle in Sanskrit. The Dhangars people are traditionally blanket weavers, butchers, cattle herders, occasionally farmers, cow and buffalo herders.

They live in an agricultural area of Maharashtra’s called the Konkani region from January to June. They move to the plateaus before the hitting of the monsoon hits as the heavy rainfall is not suitable for the cattle, especially the sheep.

  • Gollas Herders of Karnataka

The tribe of Gollas Herders are found in Karnataka and in also in some part of Andhra Pradesh. The area has become semi-arid because of very little rainfall. They live here because this region is covered in shrub forests and grasses. This provides pastures for the cattle. The Gollas only herd cattle. When the weather conditions are not in their favour they practice other occupations because farming is not possible in extreme weather conditions.

  • Raikas of Rajasthan

The deserts of Rajasthan is the home of this pastoral nomad. The tribe can be broadly classified into two groups. The first one is called the Maru group, they usually rear camel, and the second one is the Raikas who usually herd sheep and goats. The Raikas live in their villages of Rajasthan in the time of the monsoons. Their villages are mostly in the states of Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Jodhpur etc. After the end of the rainy season, the pastures dry up hence again they start wandering in search of newer pastures and water for their cattle.

Nomadic Pastoralism in Africa

Nomadic Pastoralism is also found in Africa. In fact, more than half the population of the pastoral are found in the African continent. It is an estimation that around 22 million pastoral nomads are still living in Africa today. The Berbers, Maasai, Boran, Somali and a few others are some of the famous pastoral nomad tribes in Africa.

The main work of these tribes is to raise cattle such as camels, goats, donkeys, sheep etc. They earn money by selling the products that they get from the cattle such as meat, milk, hides, wool, fur, etc. They also perform other activities with cattle herding. They also perform agriculture and do small jobs to earn their income.

The tribes of Africa had faced major losses because of colonial rule. When the colonial rule ended in many parts of Africa it was quite late because it had already done a lot of damage to the tribes.

Do You Know?

The Maasai is considered one of the more prominent tribes of Africa. They were recognised as a tribe of rich culture and wealth. But colonialism has generated a lot of problems for them. As a result of this, they lost huge portions of their lands that were fertile and used for grazing.


Thus, in this article we have covered information about pastoral nomads and related aspects. Pastoral nomads and their movements have adapted to new changes that they are facing such as the change of the paths of movement, reduced number of cattle. They are also learning about the new rights they have in the new era provided by the government. It is very important for them to learn the trick and strategies to survive with their cattle. The government is also planning to uplift their lives and provide the basic necessities.

FAQs on Pastoral Nomad and their Movements: Nomadic Pastoralism in India & Africa

1.What is the surviving strategy of the pastoral nomad?

The Nomads follow a strategy for their survival such as moving from one place to another when the weather condition is not in favour of them and their cattle. Hence they are flexible and opportunistic. Since they are quite mobile so they gain profit from natural resources whose availability varies from year to year. Their economic system is mixed as they possess different types of animals and occasionally they do farming on the scale or large scale depending upon the availability of resources fishing, migrant labour etc.

2. What is the importance of pastoral nomads?

Pastoral Nomads are an important part of the economy of the country. They produce products such as milk, meat, silk, wool, hides etc. They also do farming when they get enough resources which is an economic advantage. They are the domestic source in developing countries where the demand for meat is high.  Many countries are dependent on the Nomads for the supply of meat, wool and hides. In countries like Africa and Afghanistan, Pastoral Nomads are playing a major role in the economical development of their country. 

3. What are the disadvantages of nomadic herding?

The various disadvantages of nomadic herding are mentioned below:

  • Poor lifestyle

  • Lack of Education 

  • Lack of growth and development

  • Health issues

  • Poor breeding

  • Exposed to bad weather and wildlife

  • Lack of money and opportunities