Landscape Ecology

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 367–385 | Cite as

The use of herders’ accounts to map livestock activities across agropastoral landscapes in Semi-Arid Africa

  • Matthew D. Turner
  • Pierre Hiernaux


Improved understandings of the agricultural and range ecologies ofsemi-arid Africa require better information on the spatiotemporal distributionof domestic livestock across agropastoral landscapes. An empirical GIS-basedapproach was developed for estimating distributions of herded livestock acrossthree agropastoral territories (around 100 km2 each)over a two-year period. Algorithms developed from regression analyses of herdtracking data (with R2s ≥ 0.67) are used to transform a morecomprehensive but incomplete set of data generated from herders’ accounts oftheir herds’ grazing itineraries (400 herds following 6500 itineraries). Theresulting characterization registers 40 000 days of livestock activitiesacross694 land units (averaging 70 ha) over the study period. This studydemonstrates that rural producers’ knowledge of their daily extractionpracticescan be translated to fine-grained characterizations of extraction densitiesacross mixed landscapes. The spatiotemporal distribution of livestock that isrevealed by this approach diverges strongly from that predicted bycommonly-usedpoint-diffusion estimation procedures. Instead, the distribution reflects localpatterns of land use, topography, vegetation, settlements, and water points.Grazing and nongrazing times spent in land units are not spatially correlatedand the seasonality of grazing pressure is spatially variable. Therefore, theecological impacts of livestock grazing are spatially variable at fine scalesand there is a significant potential for livestock-mediated nutrient transfersacross agropastoral landscapes. The georeferenced data produced by thisapproachnot only will help evaluate the impact and sustainability of differentmanagement practices but also provides a strong empirical base for improvedspatial modeling of herded livestock.

GIS Grazing ecology Indigenous knowledge Land use Livestock distributions Niger Pastoralism Piosphere Sahel Spatial modeling 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew D. Turner
    • 1
  • Pierre Hiernaux
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geography, 384 Science HallUniversity of Wisconsin, MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.International Livestock Research InstituteNiameyNiger

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