Decisions of cattle herdsmen in Burkina Faso and optimal foraging models

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Models of optimal foraging theory are used to evaluate the decisions of a sedentary herdsman and his family in Burkina Faso concerning the movement of his cattle from pasture to pasture. Generally, such models describe exploitation at the patch level, but are inadequate at higher levels. The herdsmen in the study area are generally sedentary, and their strategy of exploitation appears to be characterized by planning at least in terms of a whole day and minimizing daily travel time among fields. In conjuction with this conclusion a modified optimization model is proposed. We conclude that optimal foraging models are useful in interpreting and understanding the rules governing the movements of traditional West African herdsmen when so modified, but that more data are needed to develop and test these models further.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-464
JournalHuman Ecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1989


  • grazing
  • herd movement
  • optimal foraging
  • pastoralism
  • sedentary husbandry
  • West Africa


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