I was on my way back from a fantastic hiking from Mullayyangiri , highest peak in Karnataka state I saw hundreds of goats and sheep along with donkeys and dogs in the fields and few men standing in between . I have seen them before and always wanted to talk to them. So I pulled over my car and started conversation with them. Few minutes of talk revealed interesting facts and searched all over the internet to find out more about it after I got back home .
Narnappa is a shepherd from Hiriyur village of Chitradurga district in KA ( kuruba ) who usually leaves his home for 5 months in a year with his family and sheep in search of livestock for his cattle . He is accompanied by 30 members of his family including brothers wives and kids and his cattle. His cattle herd is of around 1000 sheep and goats , 10-15 donkeys to carry tent and cooking equipment , dogs . He leaves his village January when greenery fades and reaches Chikkamagalur by March covering 200kms distance by just walking. They travel in days and tent in nights . Then they start heading towards their village by May and reach by June when the greenery is almost back in his village due to monsoon rains! What a challenging life I thought!
This is called pastoralism by the university people , very common in India . In the Indian context Pastoralism is defined as ” members of caste or ethnic groups with a strong traditional association with livestock-keeping, where a substantial proportion of the group derive over 50% of household consumption from livestock products or their sale , and where 90% of animal consumption from natural pasture or browse , and where households are responsible for the fill livestock breeding” ( source: Pastoralism in India: A scoping study by Vijay Paul Sharma Ilse Kohler and John Morton)
This is seen in Himalayas , North Karnataka, Andrapradesh , Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarath, Keral, Madya Pradesh, Maharashtra , Rajasthan and Tamilnaadu states. This group I met is form North Karnataka and the main community following pastoralism is Kurubas ( shepherds ) .
There will be one head for the herd . One heard consists of 800- 1200 sheep and goats , 30-45 people which includes 4-5 leaders, 4-5 elders , women and children , 4-5 dogs , 10 donkeys to carry things , 5-10 cattle. Mostly these people are uneducated and away from the modernism.
When I was talking to them I found out they were really nice people and enjoyed my short photography . When they saw their sheep and themselves in my camera LCD I will never forget their smiles and shine in the eyes . I cannot imagine how challenging their life will be but one day I want to explore.