Human Ecology

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 215–226 | Cite as

Going Where the Grass Is Greener: On the Study of Pastoral Mobility in Ferlo, Senegal

  • Hanne Kirstine AdriansenEmail author
  • Thomas Theis Nielsen


Based on a case study from Ferlo in Senegal, this paper discusses how pastoral mobility can be studied and understood with special emphasis on the use of GPS data. It has a dual objective: first, to investigate the methodological potential of using GPS data; second, to discuss the analytical use of GPS data for understanding mobility. The methodological potential for using GPS data is related to quantifying mobility and characterizing mobility patterns in space and time. Analytically, GPS data can be used in combination with qualitative information to make method triangulation. The GPS data can be used both prior to qualitative interviews to make informed questions about mobility and they can be used after qualitative investigations to illustrate points made or to reveal inconsistencies. The study shows that cattle walk about 5000 km per year (excluding night grazing) and different mobility patterns occur depending on the season. Issues such as “the cattle complex” and the notion of the independent, nomadic pastoralist are discussed in relation to pastoral mobility. Although cattle are of major importance to the Fulani, it is not important for them to walk with their animals, which are left to roam freely or supervised by paid herders. It is necessary to take into account all these issues if we want to go beyond the simple understanding of mobility as a means to find pasture and water.

Pastoralism Senegal GPS mobility method triangulation 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adriansen, H. (1999). Pastoral mobility as a response to climate variability in African dryland. Danish Journal of Geography 1(special issue): 1–10.Google Scholar
  2. Adriansen, H. K. (2001). A Fulani Without Cattle is Like a Woman Without Jewellery: A Study of Pastoralists in Ferlo, Senegal. PhD Thesis, Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen.Google Scholar
  3. Alissoutin, R. L. (1997). Pond management in the Podor department, Senegal, IIED Drylands Programme, Issue Paper 72.Google Scholar
  4. Ayantunde, A. A., Williams, T. O., Udo, H. M. J., Fernández-Rivera, S., Hiernaux, P., and van Keulen, H. (2000). Herders' perceptions, practice, and problems of night grazing in the Sahel: Case studies from Niger. Human Ecology 28(1): 109–130.Google Scholar
  5. Ba, C. (1986). Les Peuls du Senegal. Etude geographique, Les Nouvelles Editions Africaines, Dakar.Google Scholar
  6. Barral, H. (1982). Le Ferlo des forages, ORSTOM, Dakar.Google Scholar
  7. Behnke, R. H., Scoones, I., and Kerven, C. (eds.) (1993). Range Ecology at Disequilibrium, New Models of Natural Variability and Pastoral Adaptation in African Savannas, Overseas Development Institute, International Institute for Environment and Development, Commonwealth Secretariat, Nottingham.Google Scholar
  8. Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction:ASocial Critique of the Judgement of Taste, Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  9. Bovin, M. (1990). Nomads of the drought: Fulbe and Wodabee nomads between power and marginalization in the Sahel of Burkina Faso and Niger Republic. In Bovin, M., and Manger, L. (eds.), Adaptive Strategies in African Arid Lands. Proceedings from a seminar at the Scandinavian Institute of African Studies, Motala, SIAS, pp. 29–57.Google Scholar
  10. Chatty, D. (1986). From Camel to Truck: The Bedouin in the Modern World, Vantage Press, New York.Google Scholar
  11. Cribb, R. (1984). Greener pastures: Mobility, migration and the pastoral mode of subsistence. Production pastorale et société 14: 11–46.Google Scholar
  12. Ellis, J. E., Cougenour, M. B., and Swift, D. M. (1993). Climate variability, ecosystem stability, and the implications for range and livestock development. In Behnke, R. H., Scoones, I., and Kerven, C. (eds.), Range Ecology at Disequilibrium—New Models of Natural Variability and Pastoral Adaptation in African Savannas, Overseas Development Institute, Nottingham, pp. 31–41.Google Scholar
  13. Ellis, J. E., and Swift, D. M. (1988). Stability of African pastoral ecosystems: Alternative paradigms and implications for development. Journal of Range Management 41: 450–459.Google Scholar
  14. Equipe ECOSSEN (1997). Crises de l'environnement et dynamique des espaces ruraux du nordouest Sénégalais. Rapport technique à 3 ans. Université Cheikh Anta Diop, IFAN, Laboratoire de Géographie; Project ECOSSEN, subventionné par le CRDI, Ottawa, Canada; Universit´e de Sherbrooke, CARTEL.Google Scholar
  15. Freudenberger, M. S., and Freudenberger, K. S. (1993). Pastoralism in Peril: Pressures on Grazing land in Senegal, IIED Drylands Programme, Pastoral Land Tenure Series No. 4.Google Scholar
  16. Herskovits, M. J. (1926). The cattle complex in East Africa. American Anthropologist 28: 230–272, 361–388, 494–528, 633–644.Google Scholar
  17. Irons, W. (1968). The Turkmen nomads. Natural History 77: 44–51.Google Scholar
  18. Johnson, D. J. (1969). The nature of nomadism: A comparative study of pastoral migration in Southwestern Asia and Northern Africa, Research paper No. 118, Department of Geography, University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  19. Le Houérou, H.N. (1989). The Grazing Land Ecosystems of the African Sahel, Springer-Verlag, Berlin.Google Scholar
  20. Mitchell, C. J. (1983). Case and situation analysis. The Sociological Review 31(2): 187–211.Google Scholar
  21. Naimir-Fuller, M. (ed.) (1999). Managing Mobility in African Rangelands, the Legitimization of Transhumance. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics, IT Publications, Exeter.Google Scholar
  22. Santoire, C. (1983). Raison pastorale et developpement: Les societ é Peuls face au amenagment, Travaux et documents de l'ORSTOM no. 166, Dakar, ORSTOM.Google Scholar
  23. Sayer, A. (1992). Method in Social Science: A Realist Approach, 2nd edn., Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  24. Scoones, I. (ed.) (1995). Living With Uncertainty: New Directions in Pastoral Development in Africa, Intermediate Technology Publications, Exeter.Google Scholar
  25. Stenning, D. J. (1957). Transhumance, migratory drift, migration; patterns of pastoral Fulani nomadism. Journal of theRoyal Anthropological institute of Great Britain and Ireland 87(1): 57–73.Google Scholar
  26. Swallow, B. (1994). The role of mobility within the risk management strategies of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists, IIED Gatekeeper Series no. 47.Google Scholar
  27. Touré, O. (1990). Where herders don't herd anymore: Experience from the Ferlo, Northern Senegal, IIED Dryland Networks Programme Paper No. 22.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hanne Kirstine Adriansen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thomas Theis Nielsen
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of GeographyUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

Personalised recommendations