I do spend most of my time in Rajasthan among the Raika and participate in their meetings, celebrations, and daily life. My special friend is Dailibai Raika, a traditional animal healer and community leader who is also a board member of LPPS.
Together we have travelled to many countries to advocate for Livestock Keepers’ Rights notably at the International Conference on Animal Genetic Resources that was held in Interlaken (Switzerland) in 1997 and which resulted in the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources. Over the last couple of years I have also helped Dailibai spread the word about the Raika Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP). We introduced this approach to the Samburu pastoralists in Northern Kenya who also developed a Biocultural Protocol, facilitated by our lawyer friends from Natural Justice who pioneered the concept.
But I also make it a point to spend as much time as possible with livestock keepers in other parts of the world, to talk to them, to learn from them, to encourage them and to better understand them. Actually, they are all in similar predicaments!
My latest trip was to Orissa in the east of India. I had been invited by Dr. Balaram Sahu, the veterinary registrar and coordinator of the Oriyan Honeybee network. Dr. Sahu has developed a unique method for interacting with local livestock keepers, the Pathe Pathshala which means Roadside University. I discovered that Orissa is actually full of animal cultures, ranging from Gowda cattle and goat breeders to Ganjam goat keepers and to nomadic swine herds as well as duck keepers!
A more detailed description of our journey is available at Exploring Orissa
In July 2010 I needed to get away from it all and travelled to Spiti, a Buddhist valley in the far north of India. Of course I could not resist to investigate the local livestock breeds. Here is a report about my Sojourn in Spiti