Adaptation to arid environment: a comparative study of hunter-gatherers and pastoralists in Africa

The habitat, livelihood, and society of the San, hunter-gatherers of the Kalahari, and of the Rendille, camel pastoralists of northern Kenya, are described and compared as examples of two different models of living and of man’s adaptation to arid environments. Compared with agriculturalism, pastoralism is suited to a drier environment, while hunting-gathering is widely adaptive to both dry and wet environments. Further examination of the land and resource utilisation, material culture, demographic features, and social organisation of the San and the Rendille leads the author to conclude that the extensive land utilisation accompanied by frequent migration – common to both peoples – should be interpreted as an adaptation to arid environments, and that their quantitatively limited material culture, elaborate demographic regulation, and flexible social structure are remarkable characteristics of societies in arid regions. Abstr., ref.

Title: Adaptation to arid environment: a comparative study of hunter-gatherers and pastoralists in Africa
Author: Tanaka, J.
Book title: A comparative study of ecological anthropology in tropical Africa
Editors: Itani, Junichiro
Ichikawa, Mitsuo
Year: 1982
Pages: 1-12
Language: English
Geographic terms: Kenya
Botswana
Abstract: The habitat, livelihood, and society of the San, hunter-gatherers of the Kalahari, and of the Rendille, camel pastoralists of northern Kenya, are described and compared as examples of two different models of living and of man’s adaptation to arid environments. Compared with agriculturalism, pastoralism is suited to a drier environment, while hunting-gathering is widely adaptive to both dry and wet environments. Further examination of the land and resource utilisation, material culture, demographic features, and social organisation of the San and the Rendille leads the author to conclude that the extensive land utilisation accompanied by frequent migration – common to both peoples – should be interpreted as an adaptation to arid environments, and that their quantitatively limited material culture, elaborate demographic regulation, and flexible social structure are remarkable characteristics of societies in arid regions. Abstr., ref.