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Adapting to climate change: Traditional coping mechanism followed by the Brokpa pastoral nomads of Arunachal Pradesh, India


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Transhumance system of livelihood of the Brokpa pastoral nomads inhabiting in the yak tracts of Arunachal Pradesh with special emphasis on climate change adaptation was assessed in the present study. A representative sample of the 240 Brokpa pastoral nomads from all the yak rearing tracts of Arunachal Pradesh was selected randomly. The Brokpa pastoral nomads mainly depend upon livestock, like yak, yak-cattle hybrid etc, rearing for their livelihood. They perceived that season cycle has been changed in lower and mid altitude. They also perceived that onset of summer is getting started 1-2 month(s) earlier than before and also extended by 2-3 months. Therefore, Brokpa pastoral nomads of Arunachal Pradesh have expanded their migration duration by 2-3 months in searching of congenial environment for their livestock specially yak and yak-cattle hybrid. They adopted 10 coping mechanisms to cope up with negative impact of climate change. Among the coping mechanisms, ‘duration of migration has expanded by 2-3 months’ and ‘change in pasture utilization practice’ were found to be mostly adopted. © 2014 National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR). All rights reserved.
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Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge
Vol. 13 (4), October 2014, pp.752-761
Adapting to climate change: Traditional coping mechanism followed by the
Brokpa pastoral nomads of Arunachal Pradesh, India
Sanjit Maiti*1, Sujeet Kumar Jha2, Sanchita Garai3, Arindam Nag2, R Chakravarty2, KS Kadian2,
BS Chandel2, K K Datta2 & RC Upadhayay2
1National Research Centre on Yak, Dirang-790101, Arunachal Pradesh, India; 2National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal-132001,
Haryana, India; 3Eastern Regional Station, National Dairy Research Institute, Kalyani-741235, West Bengal, India
Received 18.11.13, revised 20.01.14
Transhumance system of livelihood of the Brokpa pastoral nomads inhabiting in the yak tracts of Arunachal Pradesh
with special emphasis on climate change adaptation was assessed in the present study. A representative sample of the 240
Brokpa pastoral nomads from all the yak rearing tracts of Arunachal Pradesh was selected randomly. The Brokpa pastoral
nomads mainly depend upon livestock, like yak, yak-cattle hybrid etc, rearing for their livelihood. They perceived that
season cycle has been changed in lower and mid altitude. They also perceived that onset of summer is getting started 1-2
month(s) earlier than before and also extended by 2-3 months. Therefore, Brokpa pastoral nomads of Arunachal Pradesh
have expanded their migration duration by 2-3 months in searching of congenial environment for their livestock specially
yak and yak-cattle hybrid. They adopted 10 coping mechanisms to cope up with negative impact of climate change. Among
the coping mechanisms, ‘duration of migration has expanded by 2-3 months’ and ‘change in pasture utilization practice’
were found to be mostly adopted.
Keywords: Adaptation, Coping mechanism, Climate Change, Pastoral nomads
IPC Int. Cl.8: G05B 13/00, E04D 1/30, E04H 9/16
Climate change is now recognized as a phenomenon
that will be seen and experienced by people all over
the world. It is a global phenomenon, but impacts are
local and so do the adaptation capacities, preferences
and strategies. The Northeastern states of India are
expected to be greatly affected by climate change
because of their geoecological fragility, strategic
location vis-à-vis the Eastern Himalayan landscape
and international borders, their trans-boundary river
basins and the inherent socioeconomic instabilities1.
More recently, adaptation to climate change and
variability has also come to be considered an
important response option worthy of research and
assessment, not simply in order to guide the selection
of the best mitigation policies, but rather to reduce the
vulnerability of groups of people to the impacts of
climate change, and hence minimize the costs
associated with the inevitable2,3,4. According to the
latest assessment report of Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC) refers climate change to a
change in the state of the climate that can be
identified (e.g. using statistical tests) by changes in
the mean and /or the variability of its properties, and
that persists for an extended period, typically decades
or longer. It refers to any changes in climate over
time, whether due to natural variability or as a result
of human activity. Whereas adaptation refers to
adjustment in ecological, social or economic systems
in response to actual or expected climate stimuli and
effects or impacts.
The Monpa is a primitive tribe inhabiting parts of
West Kameng and Tawang district of Arunachal
Pradesh. They constitute more than 80 % of the
population of the two districts. The Monpa who are
inhibiting in the highland of these two districts are
mainly depended on livestock for their livelihood and
it is also reported that 62 % of their livelihood
requirements is provided by yak (Poephagus
grunniens L.)5. The pastoral nomad of the Monpa
tribe is popularly known as Brokap (tenant herdsmen)
and transhumance system of livestock rearing is their
main source of livelihood. The future of transhumant
pastoralists depends on the way they will manage
their stay and livestock in over stocking winter
*Corresponding author
grazing land6. But in recent past, the Brokpa pastoral
community is facing newer challenges due to the
dwindling population of yak, degradation of high
altitude pastures, and subsequently shortage of feed
and fodder. But, now-a-days, these challenges
transform in to threat as a synergistic effect of
impending climatic change in the one of most
vulnerable and fragile ecosystem of mountainous
region of Western Arunachal Pradesh. In this
backdrop, a systematic study was carried out on the
adaptation strategies followed by a specific pastoral
nomads inhibiting in this fragile environment with
special focus on traditional mechanisms to cope up
with changing climatic scenario.
Research methodology
The Brokpa pastoral nomads entails seasonal
migration with entire household, yak, cattle & other
animal and mainly concentrate in the highlands of the
western Arunachal Pradesh, i.e. Tawang ( longitude
90° 15’ E and 27° 45’ N and) and West Kameng
District (91030’E to 92040’ E longitude and 26054’ to
28001’ N Latitude). Therefore, the present study was
confined mainly in the different yak tracts of
Arunachal Pradesh. Nyukmadung, Lubrang, Senge,
Mandla-Phudung, Dirnang Basti and Chhander
village were selected purposively from West Kameng
District; and Jangda, Shyro, Rho, Mirba, Mukto and
Sherjong villages were selected from Tawang district
(Fig. 1). The Brokpa who has more than 30 years of
experience in livestock rearing of at least one species
among cattle, yak, mithun, goat, sheep and pig; and
having main income from livestock was considered as
respondents for the present study. Village wise lists of
livestock depended households were prepared with
the help of livestock enumerator of that respective
villages. Household head was considered as
respondents for the present study. Subsequently, from
each selected villages, 20 respondents were selected
randomly. Thus, total 240 Brokpas were interviewed
during 2011 -12 with the help of local leader like
Gaon Burha (village headsman) with the help of an
open ended survey schedule to record the information
on different aspects of climate change and adaptation
strategies to cope up with climate change as well as
socio-economic scenario. Before selection of
questions for interview schedule, relevant previous
studies on the Brokpa community7, Monpa tribe8 and
impact of climate change on biodiversity of
Arunachal Pradesh1,9 were consulted. For the
confirmation of the selected questions for interview
schedule and to get an insight regarding perception of
Brokpa community on climate change & its impact;
and their coping mechanism, a pilot study was
conducted in the non-sample villages. Focused group
discussion (FGD) and simple observation method was
also employed to carry out this work (Fig. 2).
Secondary information necessitated for this study was
collected from District Commissioner’s office of the
both district. The explanatory research design with
complementation of descriptive statistics was adopted
to explain the recorded data and draw the meaning
full conclusion from the study. Prior informed consent
obtained from the Gaon Burha (village head man) for
sharing and publishing their traditional coping
mechanism as adaptation strategies to acknowledge
them formally. While seeking informed consent, the
researchers have explained the purpose of the
research, its sponsors, potential benefits and possible
problems associated for people and the environment,
research methodology and participation of residents
of the community. They were given an opportunity to
read the summarized facts of research through their
Gaon Burha. Traditional coping mechanisms for
climate change among the pastoralists of Ethiopia
were described in narrative form10. Therefore, data
were subjected to represent in narrative form in the
present study.
Climate change is operationalized, for the present
study, as any changes in climate over time, whether
due to natural variability or as a result of human
activity. Awareness is the state or ability to perceive,
to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects or
sensory patterns. Awareness regarding climate
change was operationalized as the conscious feeling
of the Brokpa pastoral nomads regarding the
changing climatic scenario. At first, the respondents
was directly asked whether they feel any change in
climate over the past 30 yrs on the binary response
‘YES’ or ‘NO’.
Adaptation refers to adjustment in ecological,
social or economic systems in response to actual or
expected climate stimuli and effects or impacts.
Adaptation strategies was operationalized as the
measures adapted and/or followed by the Brokpa
pastoral nomads to cope up with the adverse impact of
climate change on livestock rearing and/or their
livelihood for sustainable livestock productivity
and/or sustainable livelihood security.
The Brokpa pastoral nomads who recognised
changing climatic scenario were directly asked
whether they adopt any measure to cope up with the
negative impact of climate change on the binary
response ‘YES’ or ‘NO’. Those who responded
‘YES’, again they were requested to put their
response on a three point continuum viz. continued
the adoption, discontinued the adoption and never
followed/adopted with the score of 2,1, and 0 on a
prelisted adaptation strategies for both the region. A
list of adaptation strategies were prelisted during a
pilot survey in the study area using the snowball
technique. Therefore, in order to quantify the
adaptation strategies, an exclusive ‘Climate change
adaptation index (CCAI) was developed by using
the following formula:
ClimateChange Adaptation Index CCAI =
Adaptation strategies with higher index value
indicate that these adaptation strategies has
comparatively more cope up capacity than the
adaptation strategies with lower index value. Ranking
of these adaptation strategies were done according to
their higher index value.
Results and discussion
Climate change adaptation among the Brokpa
pastoral nomads of Arunachal Pradesh who
recognized the changing climatic scenario
The results presented in Table 1 depicts that
78.3 %, 85 % and 81.6 % of the Brokpa pastoral
nomads of West Kameng district, Tawang district and
Fig. 1—Yak tracks of Arunachal Pradesh
Fig. 2—Focused Group Discussion with Brokpa
members is going on
Arunachal Pradesh overall, respectively, were aware
regarding the changing climatic scenario. Those who
aware were subsequently asked if they had responded
through adaptation to reduce negative impacts of
climate change and 80.9 %, 70.6 % and 75.5 % of
them stated that they have adopted at least one
adaptation strategies to cope up with climate change.
Remaining 19.1 %, 29.4 % and 24.5 % of Brokpa
pastoral nomads of West Kameng district, Tawang
district and Arunachal Pradesh overall, respectively,
did not do any thing to cope up with climate change.
Native people of Arunachal Pradesh perceived
changing climatic scenario in great extent1.
Adaptation strategies followed by the Brokpa
pastoral nomads in Arunachal Pradesh
Proliferation of yak-cattle hybridization
Hybridization between yak and cattle is recorded
from time immoral. Species hybridization between
male hill cattle and female yaks is common in
Arunachal Pradesh. Yak herders practice inter-species
breeding for better production as Dzomo is known for
its better production and adaptation at lower altitude.
Now-a-days, yak herders are forced to migrate to
higher altitude in search of congenial environment for
yak to maintain its productivity. But, these high
altitude pastures are devoid of basic amenities like
transport, electric, healthcare, market, etc. Whereas,
mid altitude pastures are full of these basic amenities
but underutilized, because, it is too high for cattle and
too low for yak. Therefore, due to their easy
adaptability at mid altitude, species hybridization
between yak and hill cattle is getting more importance
among the yak herders. F1 males are known as Dzo
and females as Dzomo in most parts of yak-breeding
tract of the state. Yak herders also perceived that
hybrids (F1) are superior to yaks in milk production.
However, subsequent generations are less productive
and uneconomical. Interestingly, yak herders reported
that male offspring (Dzo) of inter species crossing are
always sterile and they use only for draught purpose.
Yak herders also revealed that hybridization between
yak and cattle is practiced since time immemorial and
is a common practice among the yak herders of
Arunachal Pradesh. Herders also perceived that
during last one or two decades, this practice gets
momentum and changing climatic scenario is the
main responsible for this. Previous studies established
that local breed of yak is decreasing and hybridization
is the main responsible for this7,11.
Migrate to higher altitude
The comfortable zone of temperature for yak
ranges from 5°C to 13°C12 with an average of 10°C13.
The desirable relative humidity for yak ranges from
50 - 65 % with an average of 60 %12. Thermal Humid
Index (THI) of around 52 is the comfortable upper
limit for yaks14. But, in cattle the comfortable limit of
THI is 7215,16. It is also recorded that air temperature
of Nykmadung area of West Kameng district
(at 2750 MSL) was more than 100C during
May October, THI of that area crossed the comfort
zone, i.e. 52 during May – September and relative
humidity is over the 65 % through out the year14.
Therefore, the Brokpa pastoral nomads are forced to
migrate to the higher altitude in the search of
congenial environment for their yak and yak-cattle
hybrid (Fig. 3).
Duration of migration has expanded by 2-3 months
A close relationship between the seasonal
migration and round the year activities of yak herder
Table 1—Climate change adaptation among the Brokpa pastoral
nomads of Arunachal Pradesh who recognized the changing
climatic scenario (percentage)
Adaptation among
those who
Study Area
Recognized changing
climatic scenario
West Kameng
(n = 120) 78.3 80.9 19.1
Tawang (n = 120) 85 70.6 29.4
Arunachal Pradesh
overall (n = 240) 81.6 75.5 24.5
Fig. 3—Naga Grazing Ground (14000 ft MSL)
An important
summer grazing ground of West Kameng District, Arunachal
was observed. Availability of green forage grasses
and climatic conditions were determining factors of
migration. Yak herdsmen used to divide a year into
four parts, viz. spring, summer, autumn and winter.
During the summer (May to September) they stayed
at alpine pasture at an altitude of 3,000 - 4000 m
above mean sea level (MSL) and it is the productive
season of yak husbandry as the availability of flash
green grasses is adequate. Maximum of calving takes
place in this season and they start making milk
products. In the second half of this season, breeding
of yaks starts due to the good health condition. During
the autumn season (middle of September to
November) yak herdsmen started down migration and
utilize the green grasses of the mid altitude. Yaks are
still productive and they continue preparation of milk
products. Finally, they reach to lower altitude of
2000 - 2500 m above mean sea level and start
winter grazing. During the winter season
(December - February) they stop milking and leave
the animals to the nearby forest. Once in a week
during the entire season, they used to offer common
salt to their animal. Sometimes, they collected leaf of
tree fodder (Quercus wallichiana, Acer campellii,
Salix humboldtiana, Buddleja asiatica, Symplocos
racemosa, Castanopsis sp., Ligustrum myrsinitis,
Acer hookeri, Spirala sp, Embelia robusta, Domreb
and Berberis sp) and fed to milch Dzomo. In the
month of March-April (spring season) when summer
set in the lower altitude they start for up migration for
cold weather. It is the start of calving period and
milking of animals. Body condition also improves due
to availability of grass on the transit route.
Brokpas revealed that 10-15 yrs back, they used to
start upward migration in the month of May – June.
They also revealed that during last 10-15 yrs, winter
period had shortened and temperature during the mid
of March is not at all congenial for yak. Therefore,
they were forced to start upward migration during the
last week of February to mid of March. Previous
studies established that herders move with their herds
in search of water and pasture to different locations
during different times of the year10.
Change in timing of migration
All the yak herders, using grazing grounds of
particular village, meet at a pre-fixed place during the
festival (New Year celebration of the Monpa
community) or second week of February and discuss
about the distribution of grazing routes for that
particular year. They also fixed the date of movement
to the respective grazing routes. Date of movement
mainly depended on the temperature. Yak herders
believed that yak feel warm from the mid of February
or first week of March as winter is gradually
shortening. Therefore they forced for early migration.
They also reported that cycle of migration used to
complete during the month of December, but, 10-15
yrs back, it was in the month of November. Present
study got support from previous studies like pastoral
nomads of Tibet17, Ladakh18, eastern Sudan19 and
Syria20 changed their timing of migration due
changing climatic scenario.
Herd diversification
Yak is the predominant animal reared by the
Brokpa pastoral nomads. Domestication of yak in
particular has led to progress, prosperity and
economic advancement for the Brokpas because of
the value of the yak as a pack animal and its products
from milk, hair, hides and meat. Dzomo, the yak-hill
cattle hybrid, is also popular among the Brokpa
pastoral nomads and prized for its quality milk, ghee
and churpi (a traditionally wet cheese made of
fermented yak milk). Brokpas of mid altitude prefer
this animal but most of the lower altitude Brokpas
prefers Galang (local hill cattle). Sheep flock is also
very common in lower to mid altitude of this region.
Due to the availability basic amenities in mid altitude
pastures, most of the Brokpa pastoral nomads are
mostly interested in mid altitude pasture and used to
keep all types animal to attain maximum profitability.
Our study finds support from other parts of world
also. The shifts in composition of herds sometimes
occur in response to changes in environmental
circumstances21. After the 2006 flood of Dassanech
and Nyangatom of South Omo zone, Ethiopia,
pastoralists started keeping camels with in their
herd10. Herd diversification helps to prevent a total
herd loss by keeping animals with a range of tolerance
levels to climatic stresses22,23.
Change in pasture utilization practice
Traditional yak husbandry system involves
migration in search of better pasture. Yak herders
practices two-pasture utilization strategies. During
summer, yaks are taken to high altitude alpine pasture
(4,500 m MSL and above). In winter, they return to
pockets nearer to their villages located at mid altitude
sub-temperate alpine pastures (3000 m MSL). They
also utilized the grazing routes as pastures during
their upward and downward migration. Pasture
utilization strategy is also depends on the climatic
scenario. It is already discussed that Brokpa pastoral
nomads are forced to migrate higher altitude.
Therefore, previously used transit pastures are
presently using as winter halt. Pastures of near to
2500 m above MSL are presently using as transit.
Brokpa pastoral nomads opined that these pastures
were using as the summer halt before 10-15 yrs.
Rejuvenation of degraded high altitude pastures
Synergistic effect of ‘changing climatic scenario’,
‘over livestock population pressure per unit area of
pasture’, ‘infestation of wild weed spp. (Rumex spp.)’,
and ‘indiscriminate use of pastures’ are the major
cause of degradation of high altitude pastures as
perceived by the Brokpa pastoral nomads. They also
perceived that rejuvenation of degraded pastures is an
urgent need for their sustainable livelihood security.
Therefore, yak herders in collaboration with National
Research Centre on Yak has started rejuvenation of
degraded high altitude pastures by introducing new
species of grasses like Dactylus glomerata L, Lolium
perenne L, Setaria sphacelata, Festuca arundinacea
and legumes like Trifloium repens L. and Trifolium
Feed supplementation
The Brokpa pastoral nomads are now a days
offering feed supplementation to their animal for
better productivity. Locally available feed resources
like maize crushed are being used as supplementation.
They are providing feed supplementation mainly in
winter season when adequate grass is not available.
Few Brokpa pastoral nomads also adopted the
complete feed blocks (CFB) prepared by the National
Research Centre on Yak during winter season to
maintain the body weight and productivity of their
Adopting livestock healthcare practices
Arunachal Pradesh is full of different medicinal
herbs. These herbs are being used by the highlanders
for the treatment of their own as well as their
Livestocks. But, now a days, Brokpa pastoral nomads
used to prefer mid altitude pastures, where yaks are
mixed with local cattle and as a result yaks and cattle
suffer from various infectious diseases like foot-and-
mouth disease (FMD), brucellosis, haemorrhagic
septicemia (HS), chlamydiosis, salmonellosis and
infectus bovine rhinotrachitis (IBR). Their own
traditional knowledge is not so much successful to
control these diseases. Therefore, they adopt modern
health care practices like vaccination, etc. to protect
their herd from fatal diseases and to maintain proper
production and productivity.
Searching of alternate sources of income
The Brokpa pastoral nomads adopted several
subsidiary income generating activities like collection
of star fruit from the forest, labourer of apple & kiwi
orchard and in Border Road Organisation. They adapt
these subsidiary income generating activities mainly
in winter season for marinating their livelihoods.
Transhumance system of livestock rearing is
considered as difficult, tough and devoid of modern
amenities. Therefore, the younger generations of yak
herdsmen are now not willing to continue with the
age-old yak rearing as their profession.
During extreme climatic events like severe
draught pastoralists cope up by engaging in non
pastoral activities and increasing their off-farm
income10,24,25. Different researchers reported
several such activities like charcoal making22,
collection of wild fruits26,27, engaging in petty
business and sale of assets.22
State of adoption of adaptation strategies followed by
the Brokpa pastoral nomads of Arunachal Pradesh
Table 2 revealed the state of adoption of the 10
coping strategies followed by the studied Brokpa
pastoral nomads. Majority (63.2%) of the Brokpa
pastoral nomads from West Kameng district did
not followed the first adaptation strategies, i.e.
proliferation of yak-cattle hybridization and
remaining 36.8 % of them adopt this practice. Most of
the Brokpa pastoral nomads of the West Kameng
district did not keeping neither yak nor yak-cattle
hybrid in their herd. This may be the reason of non-
adoption of this practice. But, there was an opposite
scenario in Tawang district. Majority (70.8 %) of the
Brokpa pastoral nomads of Tawang district adopted
this practice. Out of 14231 yak and yak-cattle hybrid
of Arunachal Pradesh, 10022 were in Tawang district
(Livestock Census of Arunachal Pradesh, 2007). This
may be reason of higher adaptation of this practice.
Nearly half of the respondent (51.4 %) continued this
strategy and only 19.4 % of them discontinued this
adaptation. From F2 onwards, yak-cattle hybrid is
less productive and male offsprings were sterile. This
may be the reason of the discontinuance of this
practice among the Brokpa pastoral nomads of
Tawang district.
The same table depicts that 52.6 % of the Brokpa
pastoral nomads of West Kameng district used to
migrate higher altitude in search of congenial
environment for their animal. All those who adopted
this strategy are continuing this practice. But, 20.8 %
of Brokpa pastoral nomads of Tawang district
discontinued. Tawang it self situated in high altitude
than West Kameng, therefore, it was not necessary for
all the Brokpa pastoral nomads of Tawang district to
migrate to higher altitude all the time.
All the Brokpa pastoral nomads of West Kameng
and Tawang district were happy to migrate 2-3 more
months than before. But, only 15.8 and 18.1 % of
them of the both districts, respectively, reported that
they discontinued this practice. These Brokpa pastoral
nomads are more interested in yak-cattle hybrid
now-a-days instead of pure yak. Therefore, they
discontinued this practice.
As far as change in migration is concerned, it was
found that 52.4 and 69.4 % of Brokpa pastoral
nomads of West Kameng and Tawang district,
respectively, reported that they have changed their
timing of migration due to the changing climatic
scenario. It was also interesting that all those who
adopted this practice are continuing and there is no
evidence of discontinuance.
Half of the Brokpa pastoral nomads of west
Kameng district diversified their herd with yak, cattle,
yak-cattle hybrid, sheep, pony, etc. and remaining half
of the Brokpa pastoral nomads never diversified their
herd. In Tawang district, these figures were 54.2 and
45.8, respectively. They believed that diversification
was cause of several problems like more diseases in
the herd, difficult in migration, etc. Due to these
reasons; 26.3 and 27.8 % of the Brokpa pastoral
nomads of West Kameng and Tawang district,
respectively, discontinued and maintaining the herd
with a single type of animal.
All the Brokpa pastoral nomads of West Kameng
district and Tawang district changed pasture
utilization strategy according to the changing climatic
scenario. But; 25 and 27.8 % of the Brokpa pastoral
nomads of Kameng district and Tawang district,
respectively, discontinued this practice.
The Brokpa pastoral nomads of Arunachal Pradesh
perceived that high altitude pastures were degrading
day by day due to several factors like changing
climatic scenario, over livestock population per unit
of area, infestation of wild weed, etc. More than half
(52.6%) and 69.4 % of the Brokpa pastoral nomads of
West kamneg district and Tawang district,
respectively, adopted this adaptation strategy. All
those who adopted this strategy were continuing in
West Kamneg district. But, 25 % of the Brokpa
pastoral nomads of Tawang district discontinued this
practice. Condition of the high altitude pastures of
West Kamneg district are in worst condition than
Tawang district. This adaptation strategy started under
the guidance of National Research Centre on Yak
situated in West Kameng district. Therefore, scientists
of the institute are regularly following this practice.
This may be the cause of continuous adoption of this
practice in West Kamneg district.
Table 2—Adaptation strategies followed by the Monpa pastoral nomads of Arunachal Pradesh (percentage)
West Kameng district (n=76) Tawang district (n = 72)
Adaptation strategies
Proliferation of yak-cattle
hybridization 36.8 31.6 5.3 63.2 70.8 51.4 19.4 29.2
Migrate to higher altitude 52.6 52.6 0.0 47.3 77.7 56.9 20.8 22.2
Duration of migration has
expanded by 2-3 months 100 84.2 15.8 0.0 100 81.9 18.1 0.0
Change in timing of migration 52.4 52.6 0.0 47.3 69.4 69.4 0.0 30.6
Herd diversification (Yak +
Cattle + Hybrid + Sheep + Pony)
50.0 23.6 26.3 50.0 54.2 26.4 27.8 45.8
Change in pasture utilization
practice 100 75.0 25.0 0.0 100 72.2 27.8 0.0
Rejuvenation of degraded high
altitude pastures 52.6 52.6 0.0 47.3 69.4 44.4 25.0 30.6
Feed supplementation 84.2 57.8 26.3 15.7 97.2 77.8 19.4 2.8
Healthcare practices 60.5 34.2 26.3 39.4 61.1 61.1 0.0 38.9
Searching of alternate sources
income 52.6 52.6 0.0 47.3 76.4 76.4 0.0 23.6
ADS: Adaptation Strategies; F – Followed; C – Continued; D – Discontinued; NF – Never Followed
Livestock rearing of Arunachal Pradesh is a
classic example of ‘zero-input’ based livestock
rearing. But, to maintain the productivity and body
weight of animal during winter season, the
Brokpa pastoral nomads of the region has
started offering locally available concentrates and
complete feed blocks prepared by NRC on Yak.
Table 2 depicts that 84.2 % and 97.2 % of the
Brokpa pastoral nomads of West Kameng district
and Tawang district were feeding supplementation to
their livestock.
Livestock rearer of Arunachal Pradesh is mainly
depended on ethno-veterinary practices. But, at
present, they adopted modern health practices like
vaccination, etc. It is revealed from the same table
that 60.5 % and 61.1 % of the Brokpa pastoral
nomads from West Kameng district and
Tawang district, respectively, adopted this adaptation
strategy. The Brokpa pastoral nomads of Tawang
districts perceived the benefits of modern healthcare
practices. Therefore, those who adopted this
practice are continuing in Tawang district. But, it
was also found that a sizeable numbers of the
Brokpa pastoral nomads of West Kameng
district (26.3 %) discontinued this practice. Livestock
healthcare facility of West Kameng district is
not covering all the grazing grounds. Therefore,
due to the non-availability of health care facility,
the Brokpa pastoral nomads of West Kameng
discontinued this practice.
Table 2 also depicts that 52.6 % and 76.4 % of
the Brokpa pastoral nomads of West Kameng
district and Tawang district, respectively, were
searching alternate source of income during lean
season for their livelihood. It was also found from
the same table that all those who adopted this
practice were continuing.
Ranking of adaptation strategies followed by the
Brokpa pastoral nomads of Arunachal Pradesh
From the Table 3, it can be easily remarked that
the adaptation strategy ‘duration of migration has
expanded by 2-3 months’ was the most preferred
adaptation strategy in both the studied district of
Arunachal Pradesh, i.e. West Kameng district,
Tawang district. People of Arunachal Pradesh
perceived that season cycle has been changed in
lower and mid altitude. They also perceived that
onset of summer is getting started 1-2 month(s)
earlier than before and also extended by 2-3
months. Therefore, Brokpa pastoral nomads of
Arunachal Pradesh have expanded their migration
duration by 2-3 months in searching of congenial
environment for their livestock specially yak and
yak-cattle hybrid.
‘Change in pasture utilization practices’ was the
second most preferred adaptation strategy in West
Kamneg district, but, it ranked third in Tawang
district. ‘Feed supplementation’ got the third rank in
West Kamneg district, but, it was second most
important adaptation strategies in Tawng district. Four
adaptation strategies, i.e. ‘migrate to higher altitude’,
‘change in timing of migration’, ‘rejuvenation of
degraded high altitude pastures’ and ‘searching of
alternate sources of income’ got the equal importance
and ranked forth by the Brokpa pastoral nomads of
West Kameng district. Adaptation strategies like
‘proliferation of yak-cattle hybridization’, ‘herd
diversification’ and ‘healthcare practices’ were the
least preferred among the Brokpa pastoral nomads of
West Kameng district. ‘Proliferation of yak-cattle
hybridization’ was one of the significant adaptation
strategies. Most of the yaks of West Kameng
district are found in Dirang block and few in
Kalaktang block. Respondents from Dirang adopted
Table 3—Index score and ranking of adaptation strategies followed by the Brokpa pastoral nomads of Arunachal Pradesh
West Kameng (76) Tawang (72)
Index Score Rank Index Score Rank
Proliferation of yak-cattle hybridization 0.34 VII 0.61 VII
Migrate to higher altitude 0.53 IV 0.67 VI
Duration of migration has expanded by 2-3 months 0.92 I 0.91 I
Change in timing of migration 0.53 IV 0.69 V
Herd diversification (Yak + Cattle + Hybrid + Sheep + Pony)
0.37 VI 0.40 IX
Change in pasture utilization practice 0.88 II 0.86 III
Rejuvenation of degraded high altitude pastures 0.53 IV 0.57 VIII
Feed supplementation 0.71 III 0.88 II
Healthcare practices 0.47 V 0.61 VII
Searching of alternate sources of income 0.53 IV 0.76 IV
this practice only. Therefore this practice got least
preference among the Brokpa pastoral nomads the
West Kameng district.
‘Herd diversification’, ‘rejuvenation of degraded
high altitude pastures’, ‘proliferation of yak-cattle
hybridization’, ‘migrate to higher altitude’ and
‘change in timing of migration’ were least preferred
adaptation strategies among the Brokpa pastoral
nomads of Tawang district.
Conclusion and policy implications
The Brokpa pastoral nomads of Arunachal Pradesh
perceived changing climatic scenario and to cope up
with negative impact of climate change, several coping
mechanism were adopted. Among the coping
mechanisms, ‘duration of migration has expanded by
2-3 months’ and ‘change in pasture utilization practice’
were found to be most among them. It was also found
that the Brokpa, who adapted these practices, were
continuing by considering its importance. Though the
coping mechanisms are the traditional one, but, it may
be concluded that all the 10 identified coping
mechanisms have a scientific basis.
In this study, it is proved that local and/or native
people held good knowledge base regarding changing
climatic scenario and adapt suitable strategies to cope
up with negative impacts of climate change. It was
also found that these adaptation strategies were in the
line of recommendations made by the climate
researchers. Therefore, it is suggested that during
implementation of the developed action plan on
climate change, a representative from livestock
rearers must be in the core group of programme
implementation and livestock rearers’ feedback must
be incorporated during refinement of action plan.
Though the coping mechanisms are the traditional
one but little attention has been paid to the
consequences of adaptation policies and practices
for sustainability. In the present study it was found
that proliferation of yak-cattle hybridization gets
momentum in the present changing climatic scenario.
Though it is profitable but should not be encouraged.
Yak presently a threatened species. If hybridization is
encouraged, then, in coming future yak will be
endangered species and may be disappear from
meadows of the Himalaya. Central and Arunachal
Pradesh state government are providing incentives to
maintain pure yak herd. But, people are more
interested in yak cattle hybridization. Therefore,
policy makers must keep vigil on the beneficiary of
the programme.
Pastoralists are themselves started rejuvenation of
degraded high altitude pastures. Therefore, public
bodies must help pastoralist by providing modern
means for participatory rejuvenation of pastures
through proper training on scientific and site specific
management of high latitude pastures.
Authors have gratitude to the Brokpa community
for sharing their valuable thoughts on climate change
and National Initiative on Climate Resilient
Agriculture (NICRA) at NDRI, Karnal, India for
timely help and cooperation during the research work.
Authors are extremely thankful to Gaon Burha
(Village head man) of Nykmadung (Dom Tsering),
Lubrang (Lobsang Phuntso), Dirang Bast (Rinchin
Tsering), Sange (Tsering Dondup), Mandla Phudung
(Rinchin Tsering) and Chhander (Darge Tsering),
Jangda (Jam Tsering), Shyro (Dorjee Tashi), Rho
(Lobsang Tsering), Mirba (Dorjee Pasang), Mukto
(Thupten Tashi) and Sherjong (Sonam Tashi) villages.
We extend our gratitude to Director, National Dairy
Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana, India and
Director, National Research Centre on Yak, Dirang,
Arunachal Pradesh, India for guidance, support and
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... These were particularly noted in local-scale case studies from developing countries (e.g., [49,50]). A few studies focus to a lesser extent on systemic adaptation options such as altering farming systems components, institutional and policies changes (e.g., [11,51]), and involving the socio-economic dynamics of livestock farming systems (e.g., [52,53]). Transformations not just of production systems but of farmers livelihoods have evolved as another adaptation option in livestock systems. ...
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... Seo and Mendelsohn (2008) suggest a model in which the farmers can shift to goat and sheep farming from cattle and poultry farming when environmental temperature rises. In drought-prone areas, subsistence form of farming with small ruminants (goats and sheep) is recommended for livelihood purposes and income generation (Maiti et al. 2014). Because of diverse species portfolios, small farms are contemplated as more climate change resilient farms in developing countries and the local breed portfolios are found to be more adapted to the local systems Mendelsohn 2007, 2008). ...
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... The souring or curdling of milk will be higher if the temperature continues to increase. The migration time, duration and distance travelled are also changing due to increase in temperature in the Himalayan region in case of transhumance pastoralism (Maiti et al. 2014, Feroze et al. 2015. Most of the experimental studies estimate the effect of climatic factors on yield of livestock but the interactive effects may be more extensive. ...
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... Therefore, they will suffer more strongly from the impacts of climate change than wealthy countries and regions. The negative impacts of climate change will affect the livelihoods of vulnerable, resource-poor, marginal, and smallholder populations in different agro-climatic conditions even with best adaptive measures and use of indigenous technical knowledge (Maiti et al., 2014(Maiti et al., , 2015. ...
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The transhumance pastoralists inhabiting the world highest mountain ecosystems, the Himalayas, have a long and a rich history of making various traditional foods and beverages. The hardship with the profession and living in the harsh geo-climatic conditions discourage new generations to continue pastoral practices, which subsequently decline the rich traditional knowledge interwoven with the system. This alarming trend calls for an urgent need to document the rich traditional knowledge before it vanishes. Therefore, in this study, an attempt is made to explore and document the traditional knowledge of various transhumance pastoral groups in the Himalayan region of India and Bhutan, especially on preparation and use of various ethnic foods and beverages. Besides extensive literature survey, the field surveys were undertaken in different Himalayan states of India and Bhutan. The findings reveal that a large variety of recipes were made by the pastoral communities, of which 32 major recipes having major ingredients of barley, wheat, rice, pulses, vegetables, mutton and milk products were documented. Except Ban gujjars and Bakarwal, the pastoral groups were fond of traditional alcoholic beverages, which were the integral part of their dietary and cultural milieu. It is concluded that traditional foods of pastoral communities being highly nutritious and healthy, if promoted diligently, it will improve the health of the society and sustainability of food systems.
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The pastoral resources in eastern Sudan are changing under the combined impact of increasing anthropogenic activities such as clearance of natural vegetation and the effect of state policies that favour crop farming against pastoralism. Remotely sensed data are used to detect spatial and temporal changes from 1979 to 2009 in the land use/land cover (LULC) across three study sites. Areas of natural vegetation have been reduced from 26.1% in 1979 to 12.6% in 1999 and further to 9.4% in 2007. The majority of this reduction went into agricultural land. Local knowledge of pastoralists on their perceived changes in plant species is obtained. Major LULC trends are progressive degradation and loss of grazing areas, loss of biodiversity and depletion of other ecological support provided by natural vegetation. Declining rainfall, land clearance due to agricultural expansion, overgrazing and herbicide applications by crop farmers are identified as underlying forces changing plant species in the region. The study revealed that pastoralists have considerable knowledge and experience in dealing with degradation and climate variability. However, pastoralists are marginalized in decisions concerning expansion of large-scale agriculture at the expense of pasture land. Their lack of education and other basic services restricts the pastoralists' potential to adapt to the new situation.
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East African pastoral adaptation and vulnerability to climate variability and climate change is assessed, using data from decisionmaking processes and ecological data of the Maasai of Ngorongoro Conservation Area as an example. The paper uses integrated modeling, linking PHEWS, a household model, to SAVANNA, an ecosystem model to look at the effects of drought and a series of wet years on the well-being of Maasai pastoralists. Model results suggest that the ecosystem is quite resilient and suggests that the Maasai of the NCA are not very vulnerable to climate variability. However the economic situation in the NCA is precarious and food insecurity is prevalent without drought. The result is that drought has a very negative effect on people.
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Climate change vulnerability profiles are developed at the district level for agriculture, water and forest sectors for the North East region of India for the current and projected future climates. An index-based approach was used where a set of indicators that represent key sectors of vulnerability (agriculture, forest, water) is selected using the statistical technique principal component analysis. The impacts of climate change on key sectors as represented by the changes in the indicators were derived from impact assessment models. These impacted indicators were utilized for the calculation of the future vulnerability to climate change. Results indicate that majority of the districts in North East India are subject to climate induced vulnerability currently and in the near future. This is a first of its kind study that exhibits ranking of districts of North East India on the basis of the vulnerability index values. The objective of such ranking is to assist in: (i) identifying and prioritizing the most vulnerable sectors and districts; (ii) identifying adaptation interventions, and (iii) mainstreaming adaptation in development programmes.
Pastoral groups in the Horn of Africa are marginalized and live under extreme poverty. Climate change brings newer and more complicated challenges. It is expected that the frequency and severity of extreme weather events will increase in the region. This will have devastating consequences for the peoples of the region in general and the pastoral communities in particular. This paper examines traditional coping mechanisms that the Dassanech and Nyangatom pastoral groups of the South Omo valley, southern Ethiopia use. These include: migration, herd diversification, herd splitting, income diversification, restocking and local alliances. The interventions of governmental and non-governmental actors by and large overlook the capacity of such traditional mechanisms. The Ethiopian government focuses on settlement in its development intervention and believes that settling pastoral communities through introduction of irrigation schemes would bring them a more 'stable' way of life. However, we contend that introduction of large-scale irrigation in the Omo valley would bring pastoral communities more challenges than opportunities. The paper's major conclusion is that the adoption of viable policies to cope with the adverse impacts of climate change in the Omo valley requires a concerted effort to recognize and to utilize efficiently the traditional knowledge of pastoral groups.
Indigenous ways of conserving the animals through adoption of traditional breeding methods, classifying the breeds, diagnosing the diseases, and preventing the disorders and diseases by using locally available ethnoveterinary practices is still found to be rational and predominant in the remote places in India plays a pivotal role in conserving the animals' diversity. This research address the facets of traditional yak breeding systems and healthcare management using indigenous knowledge systems such as local forest, rangeland resources and ethnoveterinary practices. The research was conducted among Brokpa community of Monpa tribe in randomly selected villages of West Kameng and Tawang districts of Arunachal Pradesh. Participatory rural appraisal (PRA) and personal interview methods were employed to record the data. Result indicates that Brokpa community has developed local ways of conserving the yak breed. They select male and female breed in their traditional breeding programme by following certain definite criteria based on the phenotypic characters and productivity of animals. Informal rural social institutions play decisive role while exchanging the traditional yak breeds to be used in breeding. The healthcare of yak is maintained by selecting and feeding a range of indigenous grasses, trees and shrubs apart from the predominant system of accessing the rangeland ecosystems. Various diseases and disorders are combated by applying the ethnoveterinary practices based on locally available plants and practices. The economy and livelihood of Brokpa community are significantly affected by the stocks of indigenous yak breeds and their level of productivity. The role of indigenous knowledge of Brokpa in conservation and management of traditional breeds of yak can be used in participatory animals' biodiversity conservation.
This study explores the interconnectedness between ecocultural knowledge and subsistence livelihoods of Monpa tribal communities in the West Kameng and Tawang districts of Arunachal Pradesh, India. For such indigenous and tribal peoples, local cultures, spiritual beliefs, social and ethical norms and interconnectedness with local ecosystems is the essence of their social capital. For Monpa people, ecocultural capital plays a particularly significant role in subsistence and conservation of natural resources. The Monpa have rich and diverse socio-cultural, economic and spiritual perceptions of their natural resources and landscapes. These ecocultural and spiritual values represent a challenge for resource managers seeking to integrate them in their top-to-bottom approaches to resource use and regulation. Results indicated that the ecological knowledge codified in Monpa language and culture varied according to altitude and peoples' access to particular ecosystems. Their overall ecocultural diversity, enhanced through cultural networks across communities, allowed the Monpa a wide degree of food availability and enhanced their health and well-being. Their diverse knowledge systems and cultural network among community members significantly affect the management practices pertaining to agriculture, animal husbandry, forest and aquatic resource's access pattern, food availability and maintaining the health of human and nature. The survival strategies intermingled with location specific ecological knowledge and indigenous management practices buffered by myths, customs, sacredness and traditional values assured sustainable and subsistence livelihood in harsh ecology; and maintaining the resilience of rainfed ecosystem. They emphasize the need for respectful land use, and described general landscape conditions consistent with such use.
The present experiment was carried out on healthy yaks maintained under semi range system of management belonging to different age groups and body weights at the NRC on Yak, Arunachal Pradesh, India. The physiological responses were recorded in morning and evening at fortnightly interval along with ambient temperature and relative humidity round the year. The temperature humidity index used for cattle was suitably modified for yaks.Yaks are comfortable at THI of 52. The heat load or heat stress was experienced by yaks when THI exceeds 52. The yaks were subjected to heat stress when the THI was above 52 as indicated by increased physiological responses.
Yaks live in a very harsh environment, including seasonal nutritional deficiencies, cold weather and air with low oxygen content. These conditions seriously reduce reproductive performance. This paper summarizes recent findings of environmental effects on reproductive performance in yaks. Introduction Yak production in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is still characterized by year-round grazing without supplementation. However, the period of grass growth lasts only about 4.5 months and only during June does the grass adequately meet the nutritional needs of the yaks. Failure of the pasture to provide adequate nourishment during the majority of the year profoundly limits growth, production and reproduction. Due to consumption and trampling, the amount of available grass declines rapidly during the non-growing season (approximately a 50% decline each month). Concurrently, the nutritional value of the grass also declines rapidly. Digestible protein content and overall digestibility are 11.5 and 75.4 %, respectively, as the grass begins seed production but decline to 3.3 and 48.0 % when seed production is complete and the plants are mature [1-2]. Reproductive performance of yaks is influenced by many factors, particularly nutrition. Although yaks are adapted to the weather, low oxygen content and rainfall in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, these environmental conditions seriously affect reproduction. The severity and duration of malnutrition is primarily related to dry matter intake, which is related to body condition at calving. The detrimental effects of malnutrition appear to be manifested as reduced fertility; the greater the loss of body condition, the greater the reduction in pregnancy rate. In general, parturition and breeding (for yaks and indeed most of the livestock in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau) occur during the period of long days and maximal nutrient availability (summer). Effect of Cold Weather on Reproduction During cold weather, yaks must increase their metabolism to maintain body temperature. If the intake of natural forage does not meet their nutritional needs, they will use stored reserves, thereby decreasing weight and body condition. In that regard, bodyweight typically decreases 17 to 25 % during the cold season. If postpartum females become pregnant again in the same year, their body condition and fetal development will be adversely affected due to the nutritional demands of calving, lactation and pregnancy. Consequently, some of these yaks will abort or die. Therefore, many yaks are anestrous after calving [3]. Young yaks that are born late or are weak and lack adequate body reserves at the start of their first cold season will have delayed puberty (normally 2 and 2.5 years for females and males, respectively) and delayed mating (normally 3 years and 2 years for females and males, respectively). The preferred temperature for well-nourished yaks is about 10 o C but increases to above 18 o C if they are malnourished. In cold weather, a 1 o C decrease in ambient temperature may result in a 2 -5 % increase in metabolic demands; yaks exposed to blizzard conditions without shelter may die from hypothermia and exposure [1,3]. In addition, pregnant yaks may abort during very cold weather. The effects of cold weather are exacerbated by other environmental factors such as wind speed and humidity. For example, a doubling of wind speed causes a four-fold increase in heat loss from the body surface. Furthermore, in cold weather, the heat conductivity of air with a humidity of 40 % is 10-fold higher than that of dry air (0.00051 versus 0.00005 calories/, respectively). Therefore, the humid conditions resulting from yaks crowded together in poorly ventilated sheds may increase heat loss.
How people privately and collectively adapt to climate risk can affect the costs and benefits of public mitigation policy (e.g., Kyoto); an obvious point often neglected in actual policy making. Herein we use the economic theory of endogenous risk to address this optimal mix of mitigation and adaptation strategies, and examine how increased variability in climate change threats affects this mix. We stress that a better understanding of the cross-links between mitigation and adaptation would potentially make it possible to provide more risk reduction with less wealth. Policies that are formulated without considering the cross-links can unintentionally undermine the effectiveness of public sector policies and programs because of unaddressed conflicts between the strategies. We also discuss the cross-disciplinary lessons to be learned from this literature, and identify important research questions to spur discussion in the next round of inquiry.