Transhumance: (Latin: Trans= move, Humus= pastor)
Transhumance is the seasonal movement of people and their live stock between fixed summer and winter pastures. It can be Vertical Transhumance or horizontal transhumance. Vertical Transhumance is the movement between higher pasture during the summer months and lower grounds in winter. The herders have fixed houses in the valley. The herds (livestock) move to pastoral fields with only the people necessary to tend them. Horizontal Transhumance is disrupted by climate, economic or political changes.
In India, “Pastoralism” plays an important role in the ecology of the alpine habitat and the economies of rural population of these areas depend on it as well. The pastoralists move from lower altitude to the higher altitude during summer and back to the lower altitude with the advent of winters (e.g. autumn).
This type of vertical transhumance is prominent in the Himalayan belt and also to some lesser extent in the hilly region of Western Ghat. Niti valley in Uttarakhad, Sikkim Himalayas, Kashmir Valley, Buffer zone villages in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve etc.
In a broader view, Vertical transhumance system can be seen n various parts of the world. In Indian subcontinent it can be seen in the Himalaya in India (till Nepalese border), Pakistan Himalayas – foot hills of Karakoram and uplands of Baluchistan, Hindu Kush in Afghanistan. Usually small stock are the basis of most systems although Gujjars in Pakistan and India migrate with buffaloes and cattle. Camels are important in Baluchistan and Afghanistan.
Difference with Nomads:
Nomads are persons with no settled home. They move from place to place in search of food and pasture for live stock. Nomadic lifestyle is adopted to the infertile regions of Steppe, Tundra or Ice and Sand regions.
Australian aborigines, Negritos of Southeast Asia, and San of Africa, Beja Nomads of North East Africa, Riders in Mongolia, Bedouins of Middle East Asia and Arabia, Kuchis of Afghanistan are few of the nomadic tribes. Iran has the largest nomadic population of the world.
In India there are about 60 million people belonging to the nomadic and Denotified tribes. There are 315 nomadic tribes and 198 Denotified (Vimukta Jatis) tribes. They are listed as the Scheduled Castes or nomads.
A National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic tribe was established in 2005 by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Govt. of India.