Pastoralists perceptions and rangeland evaluation for livestock production in south eastern Ethiopia
Livestock Research for Rural Development
Hawassa University, Department of Animal and Range Science, P. O. Box, 05, Hawassa, Ethiopia; Adami Tulu Agriculture Research Center, P.O.Box 35, Zeway, Ethiopia; Haromaya University, P.O.Box, 138, Dire Dawa, Ethiopia
This paper reports the results of a study carried out to examine the traditional rangeland utilization practices, and evaluation of the rangelands in Rayitu district of south-Eastern Ethiopia. Traditional pastoralists' rangeland utilization practices were assessed using structured questionnaires and group discussions. The rangelands were evaluated by stratifying the district in altitude and grazing types using grass, soil and woody layers parameters. About 91% of the pastoralists replied that the condition of their rangelands was poor and the main problems were drought, overgrazing and bush encroachment. Over 86% reported that compared to past, their grazing lands are now covered with bushes and shrubs. Annual and less desirable grass species dominated the communal grazing sites while perennial and highly desirable grass species were most frequent in the benchmark sites. Mean total range condition score in the communal, enclosure and benchmark sites were 23.40 ±1.35 (poor), 39 ± 1.35 (fair) and 50.42 ±0.9 (good), respectively. The perception and rangeland evaluation studies confirmed that the communal grazing sites have deteriorated in condition and need improvement interventions. The enclosure sites were in transitional state from poor to fair condition and this suggests a need for intervention to improve their condition while the benchmark sites need maintenance of their present condition.