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Accueil du site → Doctorat → Allemagne → 2015 → Interrelatedness of grazing livestock with vegetation parameters and farmers’ livelihoods in the Mahafaly region, southwestern Madagascar

University of Kassel (2015)

Interrelatedness of grazing livestock with vegetation parameters and farmers’ livelihoods in the Mahafaly region, southwestern Madagascar

Feldt, Tobias

Titre : Interrelatedness of grazing livestock with vegetation parameters and farmers’ livelihoods in the Mahafaly region, southwestern Madagascar

Auteur : Feldt, Tobias

Université de soutenance : University of Kassel

Grade : Doktor der Naturwissenschaften (Dr. rer. nat.) 2015

Résumé partiel
The study aims to get deeper insight into the highly extensive system of animal husbandry in the Mahafaly region of southwestern Madagascar. It tries to understand the major drivers for pastoral dynamics, land and resource use along a gradient in altitude and vegetation to consider the area’s high spatial and temporal heterogeneity. The study also analyzes the reproductive performance of local livestock as well as the owners’ culling strategies to determine herd dynamics, opportunities for economic growth, and future potential for rural development. Across seasons, plateau herds from both livestock species covered longer distances (cattle 13.6±3.02 km, goats 12.3±3.48 km) and were found further away from the settlements (cattle 3.1±0.96 km, goats 2.8±0.98 km) than those from the coastal plain (walking_dist : cattle 9.5±3.25 km, goats 9.2±2.57 km ; max_dist : cattle 2.6±1.28 km, goats 1.8±0.61 km). Transhumant cattle were detected more vulnerable through limited access to pasture land and water resources compared to local herds. Seasonal water shortage has been confirmed as a key constraint on the plateau while livestock keeping along the coast is more limited by dry season forage availability. However, recent security issues and land use conflicts with local crop farmers are gaining importance and force livestock owners to adapt their traditional grazing management, resulting in spatio-temporal variation of livestock numbers and in the impending risk of local overgrazing and degradation of rangelands. Among the 133 plant species consumed by livestock, 13 were determined of major importance for the animals’ nutrition. The nutritive value and digestibility of the natural forage, as well as its abundance in the coastal zone, substantially decreased over the course of the dry season and emphasized the importance of supplementary forage plants, in particular Euphorbia stenoclada. At the same time, an unsustainable utilization and overexploitation of its wild stocks may raise the pressure on the vegetation and pasture resources within the nearby Tsimanampetsotsa National Park. Age at first parturition was 40.5±0.59 months for cattle and 21.3±0.63 months for goats. Both species showed long parturition intervals (cattle 24.2±0.48 months, goats 12.4±0.30 months), mostly due to the maintenance of poorly performing breeding females within the herds. Reported offspring mortality, however, was low with 2.5% of cattle and 18.8% of goats dying before reaching maturity. The analysis of economic information revealed higher than expected market dynamics, especially for zebus, resulting in annual contribution margins of 33 € per cattle unit and 11 € per goat unit. The application of the PRY Herd Life model to simulate herd development for present management and two alternate scenarios confirmed the economic profitability of the current livestock system and showed potential for further productive and economic development

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