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1 October 2017 Rabari Shepherds and the Mad Tree: The Dynamics of Local Ecological Knowledge in the Context of Prosopis juliflora Invasion in Gujarat, India
Priya Duenn, Matthieu Salpeteur, Victoria Reyes-García
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Abstract

Invasive Alien Species (IAS) are known to be an important driver of environmental changes, yet the social impacts of such invasions are understudied, particularly among vulnerable groups. In this article we study the ways Rabari pastoralists from Kutch (Gujarat, India) deal with the invasion of Prosopis juliflora, a widely-spread, invasive bush tree. First, we analyze how the Rabari pastoralists perceive the presence of P. juliflora among a range of environmental changes and problems they are faced with today. Second, we focus on the dynamics of their Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK) system by studying the knowledge and uses that are implemented in daily interactions with the tree. Our results show that P. juliflora invasion is not perceived as a major problem by the pastoralists, despite being mostly associated with negative impacts. We relate these results to several intertwined factors, such as the importance of other changes, the shifting baseline syndrome, the adaptive capacity of LEK systems, and the slow rate of environmental change directly attributable to P. juliflora invasion. We then suggest that the ability of LEK systems to adapt to environmental change may in turn influence the perception of environmental changes, such as P. juliflora invasion.

Priya Duenn, Matthieu Salpeteur, and Victoria Reyes-García "Rabari Shepherds and the Mad Tree: The Dynamics of Local Ecological Knowledge in the Context of Prosopis juliflora Invasion in Gujarat, India," Journal of Ethnobiology 37(3), 561-580, (1 October 2017). https://doi.org/10.2993/0278-0771-37.3.561
Published: 1 October 2017
KEYWORDS
environmental changes
invasive alien species
local ecological knowledge
nomadic pastoralists
Prosopis juliflora
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