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Pastoral nomads of Nepali mid-hills:

November 27, 2017
Pastoral nomads of Nepali mid-hills:

Nomadic life in the hills of Nepal is an adaptation to cold environments beyond elevations where agricultural cultivation is possible. For centuries, herders have maintained a sustainable and mobile lifestyle, traveling between designated pastures for each season. They have always moved their cattle regularly to make use of the spatial and temporal inconsistency of grassland resources. Although often regarded as a primitive method, nomadism is in fact a highly sophisticated adaptation strategy. It is a unique alternative to the sedentary cultures of agricultural and urban societies.

Studies have shown that the impacts of climate change may be intensified at higher elevations and in regions with complex topography, as is the case in Nepal's mid-hills. Rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns are influencing the region's ecosystems and human populations, including the pastoral nomads of this region.

It can take months or years for the effects of climate change, like irregular rainfall pattern, to become evident as water and food shortages. The ecology of the hills of Nepal has suffered due to an increasingly irregular pattern of rainfall. In the mid-hills of Rasuwa and Sindhupalchowk, pastoral nomads are significantly more vulnerable now. Herders in Sindhupalchowk have observed that rainfall has become highly erratic, and aridity and drought have increased rapidly in the past fifteen years. The irregular rainfall pattern and the decline of hill agriculture have forced pastoral nomads to depend on imported food and brought them under the influence of the global market.

The age-old ecological balance is at stake. The livelihoods - and the very survival - of pastoral nomads are under serious threat from flooding, aridity, drought and forest fires. Some have migrated to urban centers, but many cannot leave behind their age-old ecological adaptation. With a rapidly disintegrating way of life, and an uncertain future ahead, they now have nowhere to go.
  • In the spring of 2009, smoke from forest fires blanketed much of the Himalayan range. Due to the erratic rainfall triggered by change in climate, the mid-hills of Nepal are becoming arid and drier, with increased risk of forest fire. The forest fires not only have local and immediate impact but also have a huge role in glacial and snow melt rates at higher elevations. Sindhupalchowk, Nepal, 2015.
    Sindhupalchowk, Nepal, 2015. Nepal
  • A temporary shelter of a nomadic herder in the hills of Hile Bhanjyang, Sindhupalchowk at an altitude of 3400 meters from sea level. Nomadic in nature, It is mobility that is the very essence of herding in the rural hills of Nepal. Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. 2015.
    Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. 2015. Nepal
  • Maili Ghising is washing the dishes in her temporary shelter located at Panch Pokhari, 4300 meters in altitude. Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. 2015.
    Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. 2015. Nepal
  • Due to irregular rainfall and growing aridity, foreign invasive plants with higher resistance are displacing the native vegetation. These invasive species not only destroy the native vegetation, but due to their inedible nature, the herders find difficulty in feeding their livestock, thus the grazing grasslands are shrinking rapidly. Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. 2015.
    Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. 2015. Nepal
  • Bishnu Maya Tamang prepares a traditional meal for her family in Sano Okhare village of Syaule VDC in Sindhupalchowk. The Tamang family has been herding traditionally, but now temporarily camped in Sano Okhare following the devastating earthquake of April 25. Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. 2015.
    Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. 2015. Nepal
  • Bal Bahadur Waiba, 24, a herder camped in Hile Bhanjyang plays with his dogs, who help guard the cattle against the wild animals in an early morning in Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. 2015.
    Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. 2015. Nepal
  • Maila Tamang, a herder of Bhotang VDC in Sindhupalchowk has observed that the rainfall is becoming highly erratic in the past decade, days are becoming hotter, the pattern of winds, fog and hailstorms have altered and thus the lives of herders and that of his cattle are becoming uncertain. Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. 2015.
    Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. 2015. Nepal
  • Deforestation and forest fires have largely contributed in the carbon emission in the mid hills of Nepal. In the spring of 2009, smoke from fires blanketed much of the Himalayan range. These fires not only have local and immediate impact but also have a huge role in glacial and snowmelt rates at higher elevations. Sindhupalchowk, Nepal, 2015.
    Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. 2015. Nepal
  • Man Bahadur Ghising, takes a break from preparing a bamboo basket at Panch Pokhari, 4200 meters from sea level in Sindhupalchowk.. Due to the unpredictable climate in the past decade, he has been compelled to find alternate ways of maintaining his livelihood, apart from herding livestock. Paanchpokhari, Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. 2015.
    Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. 2015. Nepal
  • An abandoned shed of the nomadic herders in Hile Bhanjyang village of Sindhupalchowk. Due to the increasingly irregular climatic in the hills of Nepal, the ecology of this area has largely suffered. The researchers have attributed the degradation of these grasslands to factors such as permafrost degradation, irrational human disturbance and most importantly, the climate change. Sindhupalchowk, Nepal, 2015.
    Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. 2015. Nepal