The Cattle Raiders Leave Us No Choice: New Transhumance in the Mahafaly Plateau Region in Madagascar

This article reports findings from a qualitative case study on the recent development of a pastoral transhumance movement in the Mahafaly Plateau region in Madagascar. Interviews with pastoralists from 26 villages are analyzed within a framework of contemporary new institutional economics to investigate pastoral mobility, as a response to the Madagascar-wide problem of cattle raiders (dahalo ). The conditions for the new movement are compared to a traditional transhumance movement comprising the same actors but in reverse geographical direction. The findings illustrate how Madagascar’s cattle raiding problem has influenced the rural society’s social norms and mental models. The study highlights how supportive social norms and fitting shared mental models influence people’s capacity to adapt, especially in sociocultural settings ruled by informal indigenous institutions.

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