SAIDU OSENI1, BOCKLINE BEBE2
1Obafemi Awolowo University, Department of Animal Sciences, Nigeria
2Egerton University, Kenya
The harsh effect of a changing climate is expected to have maximum impact on vulnerable pastoral communities engaged in extensive livestock production systems in drylands. Questions arise concerning options and strategies for reducing vulnerability and building resilience among these communities. The design of intervention measures for climate change (CC) adaptation for these communities, to be effective, has to be hinged on comprehensive knowledge of the overall structure and dynamics of these production systems, including key information about traditional breeding strategies, indigenous knowledge systems relating to animal adaptation and management in climate-sensitive drylands. This presentation discusses some crucial preliminary steps as part of a conceptual framework for getting the perspective of herders on animal characteristics related to adaptation to harsh environments. The approach embraces a participatory action process involving herd owners as project partners. Data capture involves the use of structured questionnaires complemented with focus"=group discussion and key"=informant interviews, with a focus on herders' perspective on animal characteristics related to adaptedness to harsh climates. Pertinent information from pastoralists include listing and ranking of key traits (e.g. qualitative, morphological, fitness and functional characters) in relation to animal adaptation and survival in highly unpredictable environments, climate oscillation and its effect on herd dynamics, vulnerability and adaptability ranking of different livestock under extreme climatic conditions, livestock adaptive characteristics, as well as indigenous practices related to stock selection and management in arid lands. Other records include proxy"=indicator variables for animal adaptive traits, dam progeny histories, complemented with comprehensive production environment descriptors. Detailed statistical analysis of herders' responses, as well as qualitative and quantitative data relating to animal morphology, adaptive and performance"=related characteristics, involving exploratory principal component, factor, discriminant and correspondence analyses are discussed. Inferences generated will provide crucial baseline information needed for the design of sustainable breeding strategies for extensive livestock production systems in dry"=lands, in the face of a changing climate.
Keywords: Adaptive traits, climate change, drylands, low-input systems