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Pastoralists’ perceptions of feed scarcity and livestock poisoning in southern rangelands, Ethiopia


A survey was conducted between April and July 2007 to generate information on dry season feeding management and livestock poisoning in the southern rangelands of Ethiopia. A total of 119 pastoralists were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. Moreover, additional information was obtained through informal discussions. The study revealed that pastoralists have rich knowledge of natural resource management and utilization and employ various strategies such as migration, collection of grasses and pods, and cutting branches to overcome feed scarcity during dry/drought periods. Migration of livestock and people to areas with better grazing is the widely used strategy. However, the implementation of this strategy is diminishing as a result of changes such as bush encroachment, expansion of settlements, and crop cultivation in dry-season grazing lands. The respondents also indicated the presence of poisonous plants in the rangeland, and about 20 such plants were identified by the respondents. Various species and classes of livestock are reported to be affected by toxic plants particularly in the dry and early rainy seasons when feed is in short supply. A more extensive survey is required to document all poisonous plants in the rangelands and to identify the major toxic principles in the different species. Future development interventions should consider the prevailing constraints and potentials of the rangelands with active participation of the pastoralists.

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Lay Volunteers International Association


Southern Rangelands Development Unit


Statistical Package for Social Sciences


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The authors would like to thank the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) for financial support. The authors are also thankful to the former Southern Rangeland Development Unit (SORDU) and Lay Volunteers International Association (LVIA) Moyale office for facilitation during data collection.

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Correspondence to Adugna Tolera.

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Abebe, A., Eik, L.O., Holand, Ø. et al. Pastoralists’ perceptions of feed scarcity and livestock poisoning in southern rangelands, Ethiopia. Trop Anim Health Prod 44, 149–157 (2012).

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  • Dry season
  • Feed shortage
  • Pastoralists
  • Poisonous plants
  • Southern rangelands