A number of explanations have been raised in the literature as to why pastoralists keep large herds of animals: From the “East African cattle complex”, where the prestigious aspect of having large herds was given weight, to nomadic pastoralists seeking reliable food intake and valuing long-term household survival. Importantly, however, large herds have been argued and shown to buffer environmental risks, like in the reindeer husbandry where herders with comparable larger herds one year also had comparable larger herds the next. Continue reading “Reindeer herders’ objectives may differ from official assumptions”
We also had an interesting meeting with Carol Kerven and Roy Behnke from the Odessa Centre, a research institute focusing on pastoralism, rangeland ecology and livestock development in semi-arid areas. After the meeting they were kind enough to invite us to a book launch for the book Pastoralism and Development in Africa: Dynamic Change at the Margins, edited by Andy Catley, Jeremy Lind and Ian Scoones. I have never been to a book launch before so it was a really interesting experience with presentations of the book by some of the contributors as well as questions from the audience.
While I haven’t as of yet read the book, the premise seems to be interesting: Continue reading “London trip: Book Launch”
A bit earlier this year I got a paper published in Evolution and Human Behavior. In general, the paper investigates how pastoral slaughter strategies are shaped in the reindeer husbandry in Norway.
From a governmental point of view, the reindeer husbandry is characterised by overstocking of reindeer (especially in the northern parts of the country). As a consequence, the Norwegian government has initiated a subsidy policy aiming to stimulate households to slaughter as many reindeer as possible so as to reduce the number of reindeer and thereby create a sustainable reindeer husbandry. Nevertheless, in spite of this subsidy policy, the number of reindeer has increased rather than decreased. This indicates that reindeer herders do not make slaughter related decisions from a purely economic point of view.
On the last day we attended the LERN debate at UCL. The topic of the debate was Ernst Mayr’s distinction between proximate and ultimate explanations of behaviour and the notion discussed was: Continue reading “London trip: the 2012 LERN debate”