This question has been in my mind and I have been trying to find some time to write it down but unfortunately, time is so scarce out hear this days.. Thanks to you Mike Rainy, for helping me out on this particular question.
For me, I am convinced beyond all reasonable doubts, that we must change our position to the cow. The pastoral people must push themselves from behind the tail of the cow to a leading position to welcome a new dawn. We cannot survive the deaths and frustrations caused by the death of our cows. The prolonged droughts and famines are here to stay, if the global community does not address the environmental politics very honestly and with high morals. We must realize that the era of a cow is gone. It is so sad for Sheppard’s like Rainy and Ole Ngais because I am not sure how we can survive it given the fact that we only know the cow’s life!
However, if we must keep them, let it be on zero grazing bases. Kenotiki irmaasai esaeyei nejo, tianki enkiteng metonyora yiook” Kake meeekure kiaata nemeekure eibungayu enkiteng… (~may the life of a cow be upon us but we don’t have it no more)I am not sure if I’d dare say this to my loving dad especially now that he lost the few cows he owned to the last drought. Many droughts are coming and the grazing lands will continue to die.
There is more likelihood that insecurity and tag of war between ethnic groups persists resulting from resource competition. Listen to what Mike Rainy writes below. Mike Rainy’s article below did not have a title so I gave it above (Pastoral Revolution: To drop or to restock)
Question: Do you think it is worth it to restock the pastoral community with cows, goats, and sheep or with Camels? Or we will be doing our globe a great offer by maintaining a few meat animals on zero grazing bases, while we craft a new pastoral way of life? Is the government of Kenya ready to take this challenge? Do you think Kenya will discuss this in the forthcoming Copenhagen environmental global meeting?
Mike Rainy’s work starts here.
WITH SOME OTHERS ON THIS “FACE BOOK FORUM” CONCERN IS NOW FOCUSED ON PASTORAL PEOPLE WHO HAVE LOST MORE THAT 90% OF THEIR LIVESTOCK WEALTH IN THE DROUGHT OF 2009
WHAT ON EARTH ARE THESE POOR PEOPLE GOING TO DO NOW?
VERY GOOD QUESTION…. See More
SOME SUGGEST THAT CATTLE BE REPLACED BY CAMELS OR JUST RESTOCKING WITH CATTLE.
I THINK IT IS MORE LIKELY THAT THOSE WHO HAVE LOST CATTLE WILL SHIFT TO SHEEP AND GOATS
AND THAT SHIFT IN THE LONG RUN WILL MAKE THE RANGE LAND DECLINE STILL FURTHER IN PRODUCTIVITY. PEOPLE WILL GET POORER STILL.
SO WE NEED OTHER STRATEGIES.
HERE IS THE CASE I MADE.
Let us accept that all of us including pastoral people are constrained by the same fundamental metabolic laws that apply all people and all mammals both wild and domestic through size scaling viz: mammal species with large bodies grow more slowly, mature later, have fewer but larger young after longer gestation periods, and live longer than do small species .
RATE = CONSTANT X BODY MASS TO 2/3 POWER.
Now the body size of the camel at 350kg is ~2 times greater than an unimproved Boran cow at 180Kg an and a sheep or goat is 10 times smaller than a cow at 18Kg . So a shoat can produce even twins in 152 days (5.0 months) while it takes a cow 279 days (9.3 months) to do the Same. While the camel amazing as it is being adapted to arid habitats takes 375 days 912-13 months to do the same…. See More
This is why that when Pastoral people lose their cattle they tend to shift to sheep and goats but not to camels. The NGO Farm Africa tried without much lasting success to replace cattle with camels
in Samburu and other places.
An even bigger problem is that if pastoral people are to get all that they need for food and energy from livestock then a~ 40 kg person needs ~1420 kg of livestock.
The last time that happened in Samburu and many other pastoral areas of Kenya was before 1960, nearly 50 years ago! Now pastoral people are above average wealth with only 6% of that or 85kg?person = 0.5cows/per person or 5 shoats/person.
Since the 1970′s the difference between Human food needs and per capita wealth was met by markets but they are also most robust at the small end of the size scale.
Shoats also can live near people rather than in distant cattle camps where they tend now to graze in war zones (or “protected areas” like Parks and Reserves) and where they are easy prey for large scale commercial cattle raiders who deal in lots of 1000′s splitting the spoils with well armed gangs in the New Land Based Piracy now so outrageously common in North Eastern Uganda, South Sudan, Northern Kenya, South west and South East Ethiopia and Most of Somalia.
Disarming such huge areas will not be an easy matter no matter how much it may need to be done.
The future for all of these Vast and now insecure range land areas it to develop robust alternatives to pastoralism.
This is already happening n many places in Kenya and need to be encouraged. Finding sustainable funding to pay landowners for conservation leases at >~$250/year/Km2 is a very good way to proceed but there are many other enterprises that can and are being established, all require good education and training.
The size and international scale of these problems should not be under estimated. They will not be solved without similarly serious investments in conflict resolution on all sides and that will require substantial sustained investment in developing alternative economic strategies.
Let us all move beyond the blame game.
Lets focus on what can help and ignore the rest.
Thanks Mike Rainy