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[PANEL] 1208 INTERCONNECTION OF HUMAN SOCIETY WITH ANIMALS IN NORTHEASTERN AFRICA
MULUBRHAN Balehegn Gebremikael, Mekelle University, Ethiopia
MAHLET Alemu, Mekelle University, Ethiopia
Yoko FURUSAKI, Mekelle University, Ethiopia
MULUBRHAN Balehegn Gebremikael; Lucie BUFFAVAND; MAHLET Alemu; ABADI Mehari Abrha;
Yoko FURUSAKI; KIDANE Hintsa
Throughout the history of mankind, people have built various relationships with animals. Many animals were domesticated to serve different roles - to undertake work such as plowing or transportation, to guard people from otherwise harmful animals including other humans, as sources of nutrition, or as subject of stories and cultural symbolism in many societies of northeastern Africa, from short moralistic stories involving animals as intelligent beings, mirroring human society, to animals bearing special powers - positive or evil - in local cultures and religious practices (such as birds or snakes), and animals used as symbol. Different religious beliefs state how people should interact and treat animals and especially, livestock take part in rituals and religious ceremonies (Foltz, 2010: 368). In Ethiopia, many people still heavily depend on animals such as cattle, camels, goats, sheep, donkeys, horses, or poultry, as means of livelihood. It is also common to keep dogs to protect the house from thieves and cats to protect the house from rats. Apart from the purely utilitarian understanding of the value of animals as sources of livelihood, in many African cultures, people have special emotional attachment to animals and animals serve deeper and more diverse values, ranging from social identity to sources of constructing world views and philosophies. In Ethiopia, for instance, special bonds with animals are common, such as, for example, with camels in cAfar (Mulubrhan 2015 and 2016) or oxen in Hamar (Dubosson 2014). In addition, in some parts of Ethiopia, animals in general, cattle in particular are considered as sign of wealth, status and they are also used as kinship ties (Girke, 2014). This panel aims to explore the non-economic relationship between animals and humans in rural and urban societies in Ethiopia and the horn. Papers based on anthropological field research, literature, or work of art are welcome. The panel welcomes researches on interconnection with all non-human animals, from mammals, reptiles to insects.
ECOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL WISDOM IN THE CAMEL PRAISE - THE ORAL SUNG POETRY OF THE AFAR NOMADS OF THE HORN OF AFRICA [Abstract ID: 1208-01]
Understanding environmental philosophies and wisdom of tribal communities provides insights into a sustainable way of living and conservation. Many tribal communities rely on oral traditions for storage and communication of ecological, cultural and religious wisdom. An Eco-critical evaluation of the ‘Gaali saaré’, or the camel praise poetry, practiced in the form of oral sung poetry by the Afar nomads of the Horn of Africa revealed that apart from praising camels, the Gaali saaré poems are oral eco-poetry, and biophilic per se, where issues such as biodiversity, environmental crisis, livelihoods, clan politics and landscapes are addressed, while conveying themes of abundance, drought, changing landscape, and livestock raids. In these oral poems, the inanimate environment including rangeland plants, mountains, rivers, lakes, animals, the weather, and spirits are used in metaphoric, symbolic, vivid imagery, mimetic, and realistic expressions, while illuminating the ecological and social philosophy and wisdom of Afar nomads. Oral traditions can be used to understand ecological wisdom and perceptions of tribal communities and drive insights and lessons to sustainable living.
ENCOUNTERS WITH EXTRAORDINARY SERPENTS IN MELA, SOUTH-WEST ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 1208-02]
The figure of the rainbow-serpent or the giant python is ubiquitous in Africa and beyond. More unusual is the one of the feathered serpent. In Mela, an agro-pastoral society of south-west Ethiopia, these are just two of many extraordinary snakes that people may encounter in the bush or the grassland, outside of their settlements. In this presentation, I study the interplay between collective representations of extraordinary serpents, most commonly expressed by elders in different registers of discourses (prophetic, humoristic, etc.), and the perception of unusual animals, most often reported by herding boys to their elders. In the hermeneutic work that sees the attribution of a category to a perceived animal or phenomenon, known representations are called up, but new categories are also created. Thus, the experiences of young herders enrich Mela’s representations of extraordinary serpents – and of the manifestations of the divine in general.
FARMERS RESPONSE TO EXOTIC DAIRY CATTLE AND LOCAL CATTLE’S NEED [Abstract ID: 1208-03]
The current and expected growth of the world’s population warrants an increased production of high-quality animal protein. Dairy farming is regarded as one of the important ways of satisfying this need and meeting the growing demand for milk, especially in developing countries. The main objective of the study was to discuss the care and support given to local and exotic dairy cattle by the smallholder dairy farmers in rural and urban areas. The study area for this research was in Agulae, Northeastern Tigray, located at 13°41′30″N 39°35′30″E latitude and longitude. In Aguale, there are three Tabias and three Kebelles. Using purposive sampling, the 2ndkebelle from the urban and the 1stkebelle from the rural area were selected. Those areas were selected due to the existence of a large number of smallholder dairy farmers. The methods used to gather data were household schedule, in-depth interviews, key informant interviews and observations. From both areas, an equal number of farmers were used to study household schedules which is 40 from the urban and 40 from the rural, 30 farmers took part in the in-depth interviews (15 each) and 10 key informants (5 each) were involved as well. The study found that smallholder dairy farmers in the rural area have low interaction with the local cattle compared to the farmers in the urban area who have exotic dairy cattle. This is due to exotic dairy cattle being very expensive, forced to stay at home while local cattle believed to have already adapted to the environment can stay out for grazing. The study further obtained that all smallholder dairy farmers consider their cattle as members of their family, but the farmers in the urban area have a closer attachment because exotic dairy cattle are a source of income and are essential for the farmers’ livelihood. Finally, the finding shows that exotic dairy cattle require additional care compared to the local cattle and the care given to cattle in the rural area is more business-like.
IMPACT OF ETHNO-ORNITHOLOGICAL RELATIONSHIPS ON HARWOOD’S FRANCOLIN (PTERNISTIS HARWOODI) SPECIES IN BLUE NILE WATERSHED: EVIDENCE FROM ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 1208-06]
Harwood’s Francolin is the only endemic francolin species known so far in Ethiopia. The species heads toward extinction due to various anthropogenic disturbances. The objective of this paper was to investigate the relationship between the local communities and Harwood’s Francolin, and its implication for ecotourism development in the central highlands of Ethiopia. The study used structured questionnaires that contained closed and open-ended questions. The questionnaires went to a total of n=120 households to gather information on knowledge, attitude, and practices (KAP) of ethno-ornithological relationships. Descriptive statistics, percentage and frequency were used to analyze the qualitative data. Multiple linear regression and Spearman’s correlation techniques were also run to analyze various disturbance indices. Respondents stated that the species is crucial for consumptive, aesthetic, medicinal and ecological values. The suitable habitat for the species is said to be steadily declining owing to deforestation, habitat destruction and hunting. There is limited knowledge of the cultural and conservation value of the bird and the value of ecotourism in the area. The development of ecotourism for conservation of the threatened bird species should be encouraged at national and regional levels.
PERCEPTION TOWARDS CATS IN MEKELLE AND ITS SURROUNDINGS [Abstract ID: 1208-04]
Humans in many parts of the world have a long history of living together with cats. In Mekelle many families choose to live with cats. The aim of this research is to identify how the cats are viewed by people in Mekelle and surrounding areas. Do people have emotional attachment to cats, or do they evaluate cats based merely on their usefulness to humans? Do people have a positive or negative image towards cats, and why? What kinds of words or phrases do people associate with cats? Is there a difference in perception of cats among the families who have lived mostly in Mekelle versus families from more rural places? To answer these questions, both cat owners and non-cat owners in Mekelle, Kwiha, and Debri were interviewed. Interviews were also conducted at a Church and a Mosque to understand some of the background of people's perception of cats.
THE AESTHETICS AND SIGNIFICANCE OF CAMEL AND GOAT NAMING AND NOMENCLATURE AMONG THE AFAR PASTORALISTS OF NORTH EASTERN ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 1208-05]
Due to their ability to adapt to the dry desert conditions in Afar land, camels and goats are important economic and cultural animals among the Afar pastoralists of north Eastern Ethiopia. Camels and goats serve as a source of food (meat, milk), clothing, utensils, and are a source of cash for the Afar pastoral communities. Apart from their economic value, camels and goats play an important traditional value among the Afars, serving as a source of prestige and indicators of social status, precursors for fulfilling cultural traditions. Owing to the economic and cultural roles of camels and goats, the Afar pastoralists have developed a very elaborate identification and nomenclature system for these animals. With the objective of documenting and analyzing the naming and nomenclature system, we have undertaken an ethnographic assessment and analysis, focusing mainly on goats and camels. The study involved interviewing village elders, herders, and various household members of five villages around Aba'ala town in the Afar regional state of Ethiopia. Our results indicate that camel nomenclature and naming serves a utilitarian purpose of easing camel management, identification, and conflict avoidance. Camels are identified by ten different stages of development, around 40 behavioral categories, 31 types of tattoos that belong to different clans and families, and in rare cases, by coat color. On the other hand, the Afar goat breeds, which are endowed by diverse aesthetic and reproductive qualities, are usually named or identified in two ways. The first one is purely based on coat color and coloring patterns and seems to focus only on the aesthetics of coat color diversity. There are more than 40 coat color and color patterns used for naming goats. According to the Afar, recognizing color patterns and naming goats according to their color patterns, provides aesthetic satisfaction, while serving as obvious identification. People associate different colors with luck, or sometimes bad luck, and and therefore coat coloring determines the worth of an animal. Apart from serving pure identification purposes, the animal nomenclature and naming system provides insights into Afar values, norms, fears, life philosophies and signifies the different layers of sentimental animal-human relationships in pastoral areas.