Relevance of Key Resource Areas for Large-Scale Movements of Livestock
Semi-arid rangelands show much spatial heterogeneity, with some parts producing more and better quality food for herbivores. The concepts of ‘Key Resource’ and ‘Key Resource Area’ have been developed to describe a resource that ‘provides good-quality forage’ and that ‘reduces (inter-)annual variation in forage supply’. Illius and O'Connor (1999) formalised these concepts, arguing that in key resource areas herbivores experience a density-dependency relation with food resources, generally during the dry season. In other areas, generally during the wet season, non-equilibrium conditions govern the relation between herbivores and their food resources. They further argued that it is implicit that key resources show lower inter-annual variability than occurs on the (alternative) dry-season range, buffering livestock densities from climatic conditions. Key resource and outlying areas must further operate in a source-sink manner. In this chapter, we discuss the various assumptions and conclusions regarding key resources and key resource areas, using the floodplains of the Sahel, especially those of Waza-Logone in Cameroon, as examples. Sahelian floodplain grasslands are intensively exploited during the dry season, with cattle densities on a year-round basis about five times as high as in surrounding drylands. We come to the conclusion that the inter-annual variability in the quantity of the forage production of the Sahelian floodplains is not less, but often greater than that of surrounding areas. Forage quantity, however, may be more constant.
KeywordsForage Production Grazing System Ideal Free Distribution Cattle Density Lake Chad Basin
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.