AP PHOTOS: The faces of pastoralists in Senegal, where connection to animals is key

ByLEO CORREA Associated Press and KRISTA LARSON Associated Press

November 16, 2023, 10:48 AM

Amadou Djiby, 44, stands for a portrait at a local market near a water station known as Bem Bem, in the Matam region of Senegal, Wednesday, April. 19, 2023. Djiby explains that there are several difficulties working as a herder. The cattle are thirsty due to the lack of water, lack of good grassland, animal feed is expensive and when you have to sell them you bend to the realities of the prices. “Before it was better because there was more rain but now the rain is rare”, he says. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The Associated Press

FETE FORROU, Senegal — The Fulani people — also known as the Peuhl — are believed to be the largest seminomadic ethnic group in the world, with communities stretching from Senegal to the Central African Republic.

While some men in this Muslim ethnic group have attended Quranic school, most prepare for their future by learning the ways of animal herding alongside their elders.

“It’s a profession, but it’s also an inherited tradition,” says Amadou Altine Ndiaye, 48, who began tending to his family’s flock when he was 8. “It’s a source of pride.”

Now he’s working alongside his son-in-law, Moussa Ifra Ba. “I love pastoralism to the core,” the 28-year-old says.

Ba has grown especially attached to the family’s flock of sheep: “It’s a real friendship between you, and the male animals cry when they move away from you.”

“If you give a ram a name, after a month it remembers that name and as soon as you call it, it will come and join you.”


EDITORS’ NOTE — This story is part of The Protein Problem, an AP series that examines the question: Can we feed this growing world without starving the planet? To see the full project, visit https://projects.apnews.com/features/2023/the-protein-problem/index.html

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