Can we stop desertification and malnutrition in Africa with the help of cattle?
Africa has had a deep rooted relationship with these ruminants, from hunting to herding them, useful tools for farming. The Egyptians were all over it.
Hunting and more domestic tribes, use cattle for their survival, they drink their milk and blood, sometimes in combination. And these people are not malnourished, smaller due to not the same amounts of food, but strong.
Certain parts of Africa are drying up and the land becoming desert. Not much arable land for crops. But parts utilising cattle to fertilise the soil, move the soil around and help moisture be retained. Are slowly recovering their fertile land, soon habitats and food for other animals grazing and predatory.
Trying to mimic the roles of wild herdsThat protective layer, it turns out, is vital for healthy soils that trap carbon, break down methane and produce more grasses every year to feed returning grazers. In turn, those herds feed predators like lions, cheetahs and, yes, human beings. - https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-livestock-grazing-stop-desertification/
Just like the mistake of culling elephants because they moved a lot of soil around and uprooted vegetation was destroying the land. When their numbers reduced, the land quickly began to die and dry up.
Lets talk more of the science behind the nature of ruminants and soil, and also humans farming/herding the ancestral way. It was not up until tribes reached numbers of in the thousands for their population, that they began to settle more in soil/stone built home communities. Still hunting and at the same time farming land. This enabled the population to grow and eventually the easy to control food for quick calories became more of the norm..and perhaps even disturbed our evolution...maybe even reverted us slightly, rather than just bringing development to a hault.
Within each food availability scenario, plants-only diets required 444–522 g more food solids than those with animal products to meet nutrient requirements. This lower solids intake is evidence of the higher essential nutrient density of animal-based food products, which has also been identified by research focusing on improving nutrient density of diets in developing nations and indigenous populations. - https://www.pnas.org/content/114/48/E10301
Livestock are not part of the solution but vital to reversing desertification. Let me explain. Desertification is the end result of the available rainfall becoming increasingly less effective. It is occurring to varying degrees in vast regions of the world where atmospheric humidity is erratic due to rainfall that is seasonal in nature. Throughout history people have associated desertification with overgrazing by too many livestock. This deep belief has assumed scientific validity and I too fell into that trap and published papers that today are embarrassing to me.
The vast grasslands, savannahs and man-made deserts that constitute the greatest areas of the world’s land experience seasonal rainfall and thus dry or dormant periods in every year — high or low rainfall. They do not enjoy the more even distribution of humidity of even low rainfall areas in much of Europe or some, mainly coastal, areas of the United States (US). In such seasonal environments perennial grass plants, and their dead litter, provide most of the soil cover and more so as rainfall gets lower and insufficient for a full canopy tree cover. Such grass plants co-evolved with their living soils and the vast herding herbivore populations that sustain pack-hunting predators. Most perennial grasses have growing points close to ground level, out of harm’s way because they co-existed with billions of grazing herbivores.
Grass plants grow profusely during the growing season, but as the atmosphere dries off most of the plant above ground dies. This dead plant mass, dying with in a compressed few months every year, needs to decay biologically and rapidly for growth to continue uninterrupted in the following season. However in the absence of adequate grazing herbivores the dead material that stands upright shifts from rapid biological decay to gradual breakdown through oxidation and weathering. This gradual breakdown leads to the dead material filtering and inhibiting light from reaching growth points and thus provoking the death of many grass plants. What follows varies with the amount of rainfall. If the precipitation level is high enough, grassland shifts to shrubs and trees, or else where lower, it shifts to bare generally algae-covered soil and desert bushes.
As grass/plant spacing opens and bare soil increases, the available rainfall becomes less effective — leading to desertification. Rain that soaks into the soil largely evaporates out of the soil surface in subsequent days. Or, if large falls of rain occur, most of the rainwater flows off — causing flooding. This is why both droughts and floods have increased in frequency and severity even where no change in rainfall has yet occurred. This process happens more rapidly where rainfall is lowest.
In such environments, before humans killed off most wild herbivores, rainfall effectiveness and health of grasslands was maintained by masses (billions) of large herding animals with bunching behaviour as protection from pack-hunting predators. Bunching, even where no migration occurs, ensures movement off of dung and urine fouled ground, so constant movement led to trampling, grazing, dunging and urinating thus maintaining overall soil cover and grassland health.
Following the killing of most herbivores and their replacement by relatively few domesticated livestock, humans would soon have learned that the grasslands began dying if not burned using fire. While fire does remove the moribund material and thus keep adult grass plants alive prolonging the grassland, it also exposes soil and leads to wider plant spacing and thus desertification over time.
The last 3 paragraphs taken from - https://ourworld.unu.edu/en/reversing-desertification-with-livestock
Please read further and get a deeper understanding, I could not have written it better. This information applies to most 3rd world countries suffering from malnutrition, desertification from climate change, and of course ruining top soil by focusing on crops/monocroping for western countries..not sustainable.