Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 307–321 | Cite as

Social and ecological constraints on decision making by transhumant pastoralists: a case study from the Moroccan Atlas Mountains

  • Zakia AkasbiEmail author
  • Jens Oldeland
  • Jürgen Dengler
  • Manfred Finckh


Transhumant pastoralism is an important activity in southern Morocco. Migration pattern of transhumant pastoralists can be affected by physical factors (e.g. droughts and diseases) or socioeconomic factors (e.g. schooling options for children and migration costs). We studied the spatio-temporal rangeland usage of the three tribes Ait Mgoun, Ait Zekri, and Ait Toumert in the south-central Atlas region with a two-fold approach. First, we tracked the migration movements of one representative transhumant herd using the Advanced Research and Global Observation Satellite (ARGOS) collars, which record coordinates from satellite signals. Second, we interviewed herders to obtain information about general grazing practices of the respective tribe and to gain more direct information on motivations underlying decisions. For each tribe we observed small-, medium- and large-scale movements. We found that the most important drivers of migration decisions were seasonal fodder availability and weather conditions in combination with herd-specific risk and cost assessment, as well as personal factors. In conclusion, general migration patterns vary in time, both between and within the tribes, but according to a regulatory framework. Moreover, it appears that both the customary rules and its flexible adaptation to physical constraints are generally beneficial in terms of conservation of the arid and semiarid rangeland resources.

Key words

Ait Mgoun Ait Zekri Ait Toumert ARGOS Goat grazing High Atlas Jebel Saghro Migration pattern Rangeland Small ruminant Transhumance 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zakia Akasbi
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jens Oldeland
    • 1
  • Jürgen Dengler
    • 1
  • Manfred Finckh
    • 1
  1. 1.Biodiversity, Evolution and Ecology of Plants, Biocentre Klein Flottbek and Botanical GardenUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Institut Agronomique et Vétérinaire Hassan IIRabatMorocco

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