Notes of Pastoralists in the Modern World Class 9th History Chapter 5


Who are Pastoralists?

The goats, sheep or cattle farmers are known as Pastoralists.

Pastoral Nomads and their Movements

In the Mountains
The Gujjar Bakarwals of Jammu and Kashmir

• They are pastoral nomads who move in groups called ‘Kafila’.

• Their movements are governed by the cold and snow.

• In winters when the high mountains are covered with snow these  Gujjars move down to the low hills of the Sivalik range.

• On the onset of summer, when the snow melts and the mountains become lush and green, these pastoralists move back to the mountains.

The Gaddi Shepherds of Himachal Pradesh

• They also spend the winter on the low Sivalik hills and the summers in Lahul and Spiti.

The Gujjar cattle herders of Kumaon and Garhwal

• They spend their summers in the ‘bugyals’ and their winters in the ‘bhabar’.

The Bhotias, Sherpas and Kinnauri

• They follow the cyclic movement which helps them to adjust to seasonal changes and make best use of pastures.

On the plateaus, plains and deserts
The Dhangars of Maharashtra

• The Dhangars stay in the central plateau of Maharashtra during the monsoon.

• This is a semi-arid region.

• By October they begin their movement towards Konkan.

→ Here their cattle help to manure the fields and hence they are welcomed by the Konkani peasant. → As soon as the monsoon sets in, they retreat back to the semi-arid land of Maharashtra.

The Gollas and Kurumas and Kurubas of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh

• The Gollas herded cattle.

• The Kurumas and Kurubas reared sheep and goats and sold woven blankets.

• They live near the woods and in the dry periods they move to the coastal tracts.

The Banjaras of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra

• They moved over long distances in search of good pastureland for their cattle.

Raikas in the deserts of Rajasthan

• The rainfall in the region was meagre and uncertain.

• They combine cultivation with pastoralism.

→ When their grazing grounds become dry they move to new and greener pastures.

Pastoral life was sustained by:

• Their sense of judgement to know how long one must stay in an area

• To know where they could find food and water

• To assess and calculate the timings of their movement

• Their ability to set up a relationship with the farmers so that the herds could graze on the harvested fields.

Colonial Rule and Pastoral Life

• Under colonial rule the life of the pastoralists changed completely.


• All grazing lands became cultivated farms

• Forests Act restricted movements of pastoralists in the forests

→ Some customary rights were granted to them.

→ Forests were marked as protected and reserved.

→ British officials were suspicious of these pastoral groups.

→ The Criminal Tribes Acts was passed in 1871.

• Taxes were imposed on cattle which went up rapidly.

How Did these Changes Affect the Lives of Pastoralists?

• Natural restoration of pastoral growth stopped.

• Cattle died due to the scarcity of fodder.

• A serious shortage of pastures.

How Did the Pastoralists Cope with these Changes?

• Some reduced the number of cattle in their herds.

• Some discovered new pastures when movement to old grazing grounds became difficult.

• Over the years, some richer pastoralists began buying land and settling down, giving up their nomadic life.

Pastoralism in Africa

• Over half the world’s pastoral population lives in Africa.

The Maasai – Changes in their way of life

• Maasai live primarily in east Africa.

• Before colonial times, Maasailand stretched over a vast area from north Kenya to the steppes of northern Tanzania.

• In the late nineteenth century, European imperial powers cut Maasailand into half.

• The best grazing lands were gradually taken over for white settlement and the Maasai were pushed into arid zone with uncertain rainfall and poor pastures.

Land Cultivation

• In pre-colonial period the Massai pastoralists dominated the agriculturalist both economically and politically, the British colonial government encouraged local peasants to cultivate land.

The Borders are Closed

• From the late nineteenth century, the colonial government began imposing various restrictions on the mobility of African pastoralists.

Not All were Equally Affected

• The Maasai society was divided into two social categories- elders and warriors.

→ The elders formed the ruling group while warriors consisted of younger people, who defended the community and organised cattle raids.

• British appointed chiefs of different sub-groups of Maasai, who were made responsible for the affairs of the tribe.

• The chiefs appointed by the colonial government often accumulated wealth over time.

→ They had both pastoral and non-pastoral income, and could buy animals when their stock was depleted.

• However, the poor pastoralists who depended only on their livestock did not have the resources to tide over bad times.

→ In times of war and famine, they lost nearly everything.

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