a1 Department of Anthropology, The Ohio State University, 174 W. 18th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210-1106, USA
a2 Department of Anthropology, American University, Washington, DC, USA
a3 Centre d'Appui à la Recherche et au Pastoralisme (CARPA), Maroua, Cameroon
Droughts across Africa have led to a shift in livestock ownership from impoverished pastoralists to absentee owners who contract hired herders to manage their animals. The assumption has been that these contracts are exploitative and negatively affect herd and rangeland management. We conducted an ethnographic study of a mobile pastoral system in the Far North Region of Cameroon to examine whether herding contracts provide sustainable livelihoods and allow herders to rebuild their herds. We found considerable variation in contracts and livelihoods, and argue that the social organisation of herding contracts may explain why they have no negative impact on herd and rangeland management.
(Online publication April 26 2011)
* This research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (BCS-9910557, BCS-0748594), the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (Gr. 6661), the National Geographic Society (8306-07), the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Anthropology Department, and the Office of International Affairs at the Ohio State University. We thank the Ecole de Faune in Garoua (2008–10) and the University of Ngaoundére (2000–1) for granting research permission and research affiliation. We also want to thank the students in 620·05 Cultural Ecology (Autumn 2009, the Ohio State University) and Colin West for their critical feedback on earlier versions of this article.