Human Ecology

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 141–151 | Cite as

Herding Contracts and Pastoral Mobility in the Far North Region of Cameroon

  • Mark MoritzEmail author
  • Sara Handa
  • Yu-Jen Chen
  • Ningchuan Xiao


In the last four decades there has been a shift in livestock ownership in African pastoral systems from impoverished pastoralists to absentee owners who contract hired herders to take care of their animals. This increase in herding contracts has been held responsible for major changes, including constraints on pastoral mobility and breakdown of rangeland management institutions. In a longitudinal study of pastoral mobility and management of common-pool grazing resources in the Far North Region of Cameroon, we examined the impact of herding contracts on pastoral mobility and management of common-pool grazing resources. Our analyses indicate that there are no major differences in mobility patterns between herds under contract (HUC) and independent herds (IH), and that absentee owners are as committed to the ethos and practice of open access as independent herders. We end with a discussion of the critical role of absentee owners in the mobile pastoral system.


Pastoral systems Herding contracts Absentee owners Common-pool resources Pastoral mobility Cameroon 



This research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (BCS-0748594), the National Geographic Society (8306–07), and the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Anthropology Department at the Ohio State University. We want to thank the Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation (MINRESI), the Wildlife College in Garoua, and the University of Maroua for granting research permission and research affiliation. Research assistants Oumarou Kari, Haman Wabi, and Sali Siddiki, working for the Centre d’Appui à la Recherche et au Pastoralisme (CARPA), collected the mobility and herd contract data. We also want to thank Chindanne Abel, Saïdou Kari, Sarah Laborde, Kristen Ritchey, Roger Tchouamo, Ningchuan Xiao, and Roland Ziebe for the contributions they made to the research project and the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Moritz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sara Handa
    • 1
  • Yu-Jen Chen
    • 1
  • Ningchuan Xiao
    • 1
  1. 1.The Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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