Perfect for readers of English Pastoral and Wilding, Hoofprints on the Land shows that herding cultures are not a thing of the past but a regenerative model for our future.
Hoofprints on the Land is a fascinating and lyrical book exploring the deep and ancient working partnerships between people and animals. UN advocate and camel conservationist Ilse Köhler-Rollefson writes a passionate rallying cry for those invisible and forgotten herding cultures that exist all over the world, and how by embracing these traditional nomadic practices, we can help restore and regenerate the Earth. Ilse has spent the last 30 years living with and studying the Raika camel herders in Rajasthan, India, and she shows how pastoralists can address many of the problems humanity faces.
Whether it be sheep, cattle, reindeer, camels, alpacas, goats, or yaks – this ancient and natural means of keeping livestock challenges the myth that animal-free agriculture is the only way forward for a healthy planet.
From the need to produce food more sustainably and equitably to the consequences of climate change, land degradation and loss of biodiversity, we can learn from pastoralists to help repair the human relationship with livestock to return to a model of intelligent cooperation rather than dominance.
Ilse Köhler-Rollefson lives in Rajasthan, India where she owns a small herd of camels and has co-founded the country’s first camel dairy. Her work has been recognised by the Maharaja of Jodhpur and she has received India’s highest award for women from its president as well as the Order of Merit from the President of Germany. Ilse studied veterinary medicine in Germany before working as an archaeozoologist in Jordan where she discovered her fascination with camels and herding cultures. After completing her PhD on camel domestication, she studied the Raika camel culture of India which led her to found the League for Pastoral Peoples, an international advocacy organisation that is giving a voice to herders at the global level. Ilse is regularly quoted and interviewed by mainstream media, including the BBC, Forbes India and the Hindustan Times and she has given a TEDx Talk about The Nomads that feed us.
"Grazing done right can improve biodiversity and regenerate pastureland. You will gain many insights into how to improve land from Hoofprints on the Land."
– Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation
"Ilse's deep understanding of herding cultures, and their relationship with the land and life itself, is both moving and revelatory. Pastoralism, she shows us brilliantly, is not a marginal issue but a symbiotic partnership between animals, humans and ecosystems that should be at the heart of our efforts to heal the planet. I loved this book."
– Isabella Tree, author of Wilding
"Ilse Köhler-Rollefson's Hoofprints on the Land reminds us that animals are not objects to be manipulated in factory farms. They are not a "technology" to be pushed to obsolescence and extinction in the new rush for making fake milk, fake cheese and fake meat. Ilse shows how animals are sentient beings, subjects not objects, members of our families. Animals should never have been put in factory farms. Factory farms violate the rights of animals and contribute to pollution, including climate change. Ilse shows that free-range animals and animals in pastoral cultures are a solution to climate change that factory farming has contributed to. She shows us how the highest love for animals is respecting them as family, living with them in a loving, caring relationship, as she does in the desert of Rajasthan."
– Vandana Shiva, author of Terra Viva
"I never knew how fascinating a book about herding and grazing could be, never understood how vital is the part that pastoralists play concerning the health of the planet and its grazing animals. But I have drunk the delicious camel milk in Ilse Köhler-Rollefson's dairy, and am a convert to everything she espouses. This book is remarkable: scholarly, accessible and hugely important."
– Joanna Lumley
"A beautiful, deeply thoughtful and intelligent book that completely reframes the fraught discussion around the role of animals in our food system. Every reader will not only learn a great deal but will also see the world in a new and better light."
– Nicolette Hahn Niman, author of Defending Beef
"Entirely timely, unique and massively thought provoking. It raises a whole host of intriguing issues which often, in my view, although identified as pertinent to the Southern Hemisphere, have clear and painful parallels in the north. I am not sure that many involved with limited appreciations of how livestock farming works will realise these synergies. But they should be illuminated and understood. Ilse's depth of knowledge of subject is splendid."
– Derek Gow, author of Bringing Back the Beaver
"Inspiration for western agriculture as an extension of the ever-growing interest in regenerative agriculture, Hoofprints on the Land opens our minds to the important role nomadic herding could play in securing the future of people in dry lands, while also playing a vital role in environmental management. For most of us farming in temperate climes, nomadism may seem an irrelevance, a nostalgia from bygone ages; Hoofprints on the Land helps us to understand how misguided these impressions are. Thank you, Ilse, for opening this world to us!"
– Helen Browning, chief executive, Soil Association
"A must-read for anyone who cares about the Earth. Hoofprints on the Land is a powerful story of hope, sharing a way of producing food that gives back more than it takes away from nature and humanity combined. Ilse has a skilful way of blending scientific research with observations and personal stories to illustrate how the relationship between people and livestock can be a true force for good. A genuinely inspirational book – I absolutely devoured it."
– Lynn Cassells, coauthor of Our Wild Farming Life
"In Hoofprints on the Land, Ilse Köhler-Rollefson shows us how, since prehistory, grazing animals literally knit together the world's biosphere – its soil, earth, and air – and how traditional herding cultures today, often impoverished and overlooked, might still save the planet. This is a passionate, important book, a must-read for anyone interested in ecology or food or our future coexistence with wild and domestic animals."
– Brad Kessler, author of Goat Song
"A provocative and thoughtful meditation on the necessity of distinguishing between industrialised farming and traditional methods of pastoralism when discussing food security and the future of agriculture. Transhumance has been around since the beginning of animal domestication and works within established ecosystems, putting in more than it takes out. There is wisdom in age-old practices of animal herding that deserve to be preserved and protected."
– Dr Ross Barnett, author of The Missing Lynx
"Pastoralists care for the Earth, provide a flood of protein resources, and maintain cultures of enormous depth. All of this is stunningly clear from the story of the Raika camel herders of Rajasthan, told by one of their closest allies and most thoughtful observers. This wonderfully documented book shows that herding is a twenty-first-century technology for sustainability."
– Paul Robbins, dean, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison
"All of us who are concerned and worried about pastoralists and traditional livestock herders and their role in our world simply have to read this book by Ilse Köhler-Rollefson – and soon. Those of us who are unconcerned or unaware of how intertwined our world is with theirs, simply have to read this book – even sooner."
– P. Sainath, author of Everybody Loves a Good Drought
"For centuries, the Raika communities have lived in harmony with nature, in the course of which they have developed some of India's most vibrant oral and folk traditions. Ilse Köhler-Rollefson's work to revive the Raika community's traditions and document the "Raika way of life" is an important contribution to India's civilisational message to the world. Having worked with the Raika community for many decades, I believe their worldview, traditions and way of regenerative and sustainable livestock rearing show the world an important way forward in dealing with many challenges that we face today, especially in the area of climate change."
– William Nanda Bissell, executive vice chairman, Fabindia Limited
""We women pastoralists want our children, and our children's children, to have the tools and the opportunities they need to adapt to the realities of the modern world while retaining their traditional cultural legacies and lifestyles", the women pastoralists declared during the Global Gathering of Women Pastoralist held in Meera, Gujarat in 2010. In her book, Ilse vividly testimonies the energy of this unique gathering that voiced women pastoralists and their vision for the future generations for youth to have a double curriculum – their traditional rich heritage and modern tools. It is the seventh-generation principle of Indigenous peoples that for millennia has promoted true sustainability, of which the women are the custodians."
– Antonella Cordone, senior technical specialist, Nutrition and Social Inclusion, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)