From „Biocultural Protocols to the Ark of Livestock Biodiversity“ is a joint project of the League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development and its partners in India (Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan), in Pakistan (SAVES) and the LIFE Network Africa. It is supported by the Fondation d’Entreprise Hermes.


The purpose of the project is to find out how to support pastoralists and other local livestock keepers in stewarding indigenous breeds and conserving bio-diversity rich eco-systems. Our team wants to explore how we can create something like a level playing field between these small-scale sustainable livestock keepers and the intensive or industrial production systems that are taking over the world. Our entry-point is the quality of the products that are produced in traditional extensive production systems relying on natural vegetation and a diversity of local crop by-products.

Pastoralists are the “guardians of biological diversity”. They steward indigenous livestock breeds that metabolize bio-diverse vegetation into a range of high value products and thereby maintain the integrity of eco-systems and landscapes. Despite their enormous role in providing food security and in maintaining biodiversity, pastoralists are threatened in their survival in many or most parts of the world. This is due to a variety of factors, such as land-grabbing and population pressure. But it is also due to a lack of appreciation of their way of life and traditional knowledge and a prevailing perception that livestock keeping is backward and has no future. This causes many young people to abandon this occupation and look for opportunities in the cities.

Biocultural Community Protocols. An important facet of this project is that it works with communities that already have, or are in the process of, establishing Biocultural Community Protocols: The Raika and the pastoralists of Jaisalmer district in India, the Pashtoon of Baluchistan in Pakistan, and the Samburu of Kenya. “Biocultural Community Protocols” are a process and a document in which livestock keepers (or other biodiversity conserving communities) put their resources and knowledge on record and thereby claim status as “indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity” under Paragraph 8j of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This strengthens their legal position as the CBD is a legally binding framework that obliges its signatory governments to respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of such communities.

We are using the followng methods: Participatory community surveys to identify and document traditional livestock products and processing methods, analysis of the special properties of these products in terms of sensory qualities, nutritional value, and medicinal effects in collaboration with scientists and sharing of the results with communities, private enterprise and policy makers.

Goals of the Project

At the end of the project, we expect to have

  • an inventory of existing traditional products and processing methods from pastoral communities in three countries (India, Pakistan, Kenya),
  • an analysis of the potential of local breeds for specialty products and evaluation of their health, heritage and sensory values,
  • better understanding of the technological requirements for producing products tailored to urban consumer preferences,
  • awareness among communities, policy makers and private enterprise about the economic opportunities inherent in local breeds
  • insights into the potential and promise of and criteria for a special label/brand for products from biodiversity conserving livestock systems.
Ghee from indigenous cows is highly valued in India. However it is rarely marketed and used for home consumption only.

Ghee from indigenous cows is highly valued in India. However it is rarely marketed and used for home consumption only.