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Human Ecology

, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 775–789 | Cite as

An Integrated Approach to Modeling Grazing Pressure in Pastoral Systems: The Case of the Logone Floodplain (Cameroon)

  • Mark MoritzEmail author
  • Eric Soma
  • Paul Scholte
  • Ningchuan Xiao
  • Leah Taylor
  • Todd Juran
  • Saïdou Kari
Article

Abstract

The discussion about the impact of pastoral systems on ecosystems has been profoundly shaped by Hardin’s “tragedy of the commons” argument that held pastoralists responsible for overgrazing the range. Recent studies have shown that grazing ecosystems are much more complex and dynamic than was previously assumed and that pastoralists adaptively manage these systems. However, we still have little understanding how everyday herding affects ecosystems at the landscape level. We conducted a study of daily herd movements and grazing strategies in a mobile pastoral system in the Logone floodplain, Cameroon. We integrated GPS/GIS technology, video recordings of animal behavior, and ethnographic methods to develop a more accurate measurement of grazing pressure that takes into account both livestock densities and grazing behavior. We used the resulting grazing pressure data to evaluate existing conceptual models of grazing pressure at a landscape level. We found that models that predict that grazing pressure is skewed towards the direction of water most accurately reflect the situation in the Logone floodplain in the dry season. However, we found that the higher grazing pressure is not only the result of a higher density of cattle but also a change in the grazing behavior of animals after watering. Finally, we caution that the models of grazing pressure in the dry season cannot simply be extrapolated to the landscape level because mobile pastoralists do not remain in one central place.

Keywords

Pastoral systems Grazing pressure Pastoral mobility GPS/GIS Africa 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (BCS-0748594), the National Geographic Society (8306-07), and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Anthropology Department at the Ohio State University. We want to thank Mouazamou Ahmadou for video recording, and the Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation (MINRESI) and the Ecole de Faune de Garoua for granting research permission and research affiliation (2008–2010), Bilal Butt, Matthew Turner, and two anonymous reviewers for comments on an earlier version of this paper, and all the pastoralists for helping us with our research. All maps are made by Eric Soma.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Moritz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eric Soma
    • 1
  • Paul Scholte
    • 2
  • Ningchuan Xiao
    • 1
  • Leah Taylor
    • 1
  • Todd Juran
    • 1
  • Saïdou Kari
    • 3
  1. 1.Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Kitabi College of Conservation & Environmental Management (KCCEM)GikongoroRwanda
  3. 3.The Centre d’Appui a la Recherche et au Pastoralisme (CARPA)MarouaCameroon

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