Pastoralism and Conservation in the Sudan | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
May 2021
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On a global scale, Sudan perhaps ranks first in terms of pastoralists population size. About
66 per cent of Sudan is arid land, which is mainly pastoralists’ habitat. Pastoralism in the
Sudan involves about 20 per cent of the population and accounts for almost 40 per cent of
livestock wealth [Markakis, 1998: 41]. The livestock sector plays an important role in the
economy of the Sudan, accounting for about 20 percent of the GDP, meeting the domestic
demand for meat and about 70 percent of national milk requirements and contributing about
20 percent of the Sudan’s foreign exchange earnings. It is also a very significant source of
employment for about 80 percent of the rural workforce.
In the Sudan it is estimated that the total number of cattle multiplied 21 times between 1917
and 1977, camels 16 times, sheep 12 times and goats 8 times [Fouad Ibrahim, 1984, p.125 in
Markakis, 1998: 42]. Their numbers are estimated to have doubled between 1965 and 1986.
The rapid rate of animal population increase has been attributed to the introduction of
veterinary services and the stimulation of the market. Two periods of exceptional rainfall
(1919-1934 and 1950-1965) added momentum to this trend. In the early 1980s there were
nearly three million heads of camels, over 20 million cattle, nearly 19 million sheep, and 14
million goats. Livestock estimates for the year 2005 are 38 million heads of cattle, 47 million
sheep, 40 million goats and three million camels [Ministry of Animal Resources, 2006].

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