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5 Nomadic  Cultures

With urban populations on a definite rise and the increasing international modernisation, sometimes it’s easy to forget about the continued existence of nomadic cultures. Dealing with the threat of climate change, industrialisation and the pull of technology, such traveling peoples face an uncertain future.

The Amazigh of Northern Africa

See page for author [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsAlso known as Berbers, the nomadic Amazigh peoples of North Africa have undergone centuries of invasion, including Romans and Phoenicians. Nowadays, many of the roughly 25 million Amazigh people remaining in North Africa have preserved their language and culture, with almost 40% of the Moroccan population speaking one of the three Amazigh languages. The traditional migration routes of this nomadic peoples has been severely compromised over the last few decades, mostly due to climate change and a turbulent political climate. Under the Gaddafi regime in Libya for instance, Amazigh families were prohibited from speaking their language, displaying their flag or using traditional names for their children. Their usual bi-annual route from the High Atlas Mountains to the Sahara Desert has been somewhat disrupted by severe droughts in the areas: whilst around 410 families followed the migration passages in 1988, only around 15 continue to do so today.

The Nukak-Maku of Colombia

Flickr | Galo NaranjoThe case of the Nukak peoples in Colombia is a classic example of how outside intervention has resulted in a severe population decrease and heightened reliance on the outside world. Only discovered in the 1980s, the Nukak lived deep in the forests of the Amazon basin and would continually migrate in search of food. As a result of the territorial encroachment posed by cocoa farmers and armed rebel forces in search of land, the Nukak have already lost about half of their population through disease contracted from outsiders. Furthermore, their loss of land which previously served them as a source of nourishment and survival now means that they are becoming increasingly reliant on food provisions from the government. Being forced out of the jungle with little to no preparation for the outside world, the Nukak are at serious risk of losing their culture and people at the expense of land grabs.

The Kuchi of Afghanistan

By Tech. Sgt. John Cumper [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsMoving around southern and eastern Afghanistan, the Kuchi usually spend winters in the same place and then embark in search of the best pastures with their herds - a migration route that they have been following for centuries. Sadly, this nomadic people have not been left unscathed by the conflict that rages in the region, with many people and animals injured or killed by landmines and Taliban activity. With each political regime change, so does the territory through which the Kuchi can travel. While a 1977 census recorded the Kuchi population around the 2 million mark, it is unsure how many currently exist.

The Sami of Scandinavia

Flickr | Christopher ForsterSometimes referred to as Laplanders, the Sami people hail from the polar regions of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia. Their traditional practice of managing huge herds of reindeer across the region has become increasingly difficult as a result of climate change.The Sami are a nomadic tribe that has embraced certain technological aspects in order to complement their way of life. As time has progressed, their herd movement and hunter-gatherer lifestyle has been aided by their use of all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles. Nevertheless, there remains a distinct tension between tradition and technology. Industrial expansion, particularly mining and forestry, has meant the displacement of the roughly 70,000-strong Sami people, many of whom struggle to adjust to life in artificial towns. A rising trend amongst the younger members to embrace a more sedentary life that includes internet and cell phones means that those exercising their ancestral lifestyle may become fewer and far between.

The Qashqai of Iran

By ninara (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ninara/5716622182/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsOriginally hailing from Central Asia but having settled in southwestern Iran since the 11th and 12th centuries, the Qashqai people have been resisting modern assimilation for centuries. Despite being Muslim, they have little connection to religious institutions and practice their own form of Islam - the granting of such religious independence has been aided by their nomadic lifestyle. Each year, they travel roughly 480 km with their herds from the pastures north of Shiraz to the warmer lands of the Persian Gulf. Relying heavily on their herds as a means of survival, the increasing difficulty the Qashqai face to graze their flocks means that their traditional lifestyle and independence is being threatened, with some members tempted to move to the cities.

So there you go, 5 cultures that still live nomadically! Despite the numerous threats they face, many have persisted in preserving their unique cultures. With the help and awareness of the international community to combat global issues such as climate change, their survival will hopefully be secured.

By Laura Hallensleben - Online Journalism Intern

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