Discuss the spatial distribution of nomadic pastoralism around the world and explain the concept of transhumance.
Most regions of nomadic herding have an arid or semi-arid climate with a rainfall of less than 50 cm. Due to this, trees are not found over large areas and grasses and shrubs are the dominant life form of vegetation.
There are around 30-40 million nomadic pastoralists around the world, most of whom (around half) are found in Central Asia and Sahel region of West Africa. They are also found in Sahara, Kalahari, Sudan in Africa; fringes of Middle East; northern Eurasia and Alaska. In southern hemisphere, they are found in parts of southwest Africa and parts of Madagascar.
Nomadic pastoralism is entirely based on the natural pastures. Since there are seasonal changes in soil moisture and fertility, the nomadic pastoralism is a regular migratory undertaking. People engaged in this need to make continuous movement in search of new pastures either over long distances or vertically from one elevation to another.
The vertical movement from one elevation to other elevation is known as transhumance. The Gaddis, Bakkarwals and Gujjars of Himalayan region in India resort to transhumance.