Changes in vegetation & herd structure in East Pokot, Kenya

Oral evidence from Pokot pastoralists on vegetation change in the rangelands of northern Baringo District, Kenya, points to major changes in structure and biodiversity composition over the past century. A landscape of perennial grasses has turned into Acacia-dominated shrubland. The article “Changes in landscape vegetation, forage plant composition and herding structure in the pastoralist livelihoods of East Pokot, Kenya” by Hauke-Peter Vehrs, published in 2016 in the Journal of Eastern African Studies 10 (1): 88–110, compares perceptions of current changes in grass composition with former accounts, highlighting local assessments of declining high-quality grasses. The author traces the history of changes in vegetation and links these to high grazing pressure, restricted herd mobility and increasing human population as causal factors. The costs and benefits of bush encroachment are also examined. The tremendous increase in numbers of goats and camels in the pastoral herds is closely connected to the increased availability of tree and shrub fodder for browsing animals. The article concludes by contrasting the views expressed on landscape by Pokot elders with scientific accounts of environmental change.

Posted on 27 November 2017 in News