Study Material and Notes of Ch 5 Pastoralists in the Modern World Class 9th History

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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