Innovation in remote livestock monitoring in transhumance areas

In the context of agro-pastoral communities in sub-Saharan Africa, livestock is a key pillar for the survival and livelihood of local populations. The innovative remote livestock monitoring system developed by the Swiss agency Astrocast in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Veterinarians Without Borders Italy (VSF Italia) is a significant step toward more efficient and effective management of animal resources in the vast transhumance territories.

One of the main challenges in transhumance regions is the lack of detailed information on the routes used by animals during their seasonal movements. Using satellite technology employed in this project, it was possible to obtain maps of the grazing circuits used by animals throughout the year. These maps are a valuable tool for optimally planning the distribution of water points along transhumance routes, allowing easier access to essential water resources for animals during their movements. In addition, maps of grazing circuits can be used to plan preventive veterinary interventions along transhumance routes, thus helping to improve the health and welfare of livestock.

The innovative remote monitoring system was developed through an integrated methodological approach involving several stages of research and experimentation. Initially, ICRC, Astrocast and VSF experts identified the need to improve understanding of animal mobility in the Sahelian regions, recognizing the lack of detailed information on the routes used by animals. Through close collaboration with local authorities, such as the Ministry of Livestock and the sous Prefecturof Mabo, farmers and rural communities, an in-depth survey of animal movements and grazing habits was conducted.

Next, five representative animals were selected, and GPS collars were placed to collect information on their movements over the course of six months. The collected data were transmitted to the Astrocast satellite system and processed using the Astrocast Animal Tracker – Geoevent, which allows detailed visualization of the animals’ movements in space and time, along with other parameters.

During the data collection process, surveys and interviews were also conducted with local farmers to better understand their needs and requirements. This participatory methodology ensured active involvement of local communities in the decision-making process and helped promote greater acceptance and adoption of the remote livestock monitoring system.

The integrated methodological approach adopted in this study yielded significant results in understanding livestock mobility in Sahelian regions. The use of innovative technologies and the active involvement of local communities enable the development of an effective and sustainable remote livestock monitoring system that could be successfully replicated in other agro-pastoral areas around the world.

The success of this pilot project was made possible by the close collaboration between various humanitarian and development organizations and local actors. This collaboration enabled the combination of expertise and resources to effectively address the challenges of managing animal resources in transhumance regions. Through the exchange of knowledge and joint implementation of innovative solutions, we hope to provide valuable support to the most vulnerable agro-pastoral communities.

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