Modeling Herding Decision Making in the Extensive Grazing System in Southern Ethiopia

Chuan Liao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The practice of extensive herding through camp relocation allows pastoralists to track greener pastures while redistributing grazing pressure throughout the landscape, but the lack of intensive and continuous monitoring data on large-scale livestock movement results in limited understanding of this important practice. This article takes an integrated approach to understanding pastoral mobility and modeling extensive herding. The analysis is based on Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking of fifty-eight cows, as well as surveys, participatory mapping, and interviews with pastoralists in five study sites in southern Ethiopia. Linear mixed-effect models are used to examine the community- and household-level determinants of extensive herding. The findings suggest that resource conditions, resource users, and socioeconomic context play significant roles in affecting the practice of extensive herding. Compared to household herd size, community-level factors largely determine the feasibility of extensive herding. Future pastoral policymaking needs to facilitate the creation and maintenance of favorable herding context to encourage large-scale mobility as an adaptation strategy in the arid and semiarid environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)260-276
Number of pages17
JournalAnnals of the American Association of Geographers
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethiopia
  • GPS tracking
  • mobility
  • modeling
  • pastoralists

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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