Edited by Léo-Paul Dana and Robert B. Anderson
Chapter 10: Traditional Livestock Production Among Bedouin in the Negev Desert
A. Allan Degen Introduction There are more than 130 000 Bedouin in the Negev (over 86 000 in planned towns and the rest in spontaneous, non-recognized settlements) owning about 200 000 to 300 000 sheep. Many Bedouin families raise some livestock, mainly sheep, and about 1000 families, most from non-recognized settlements, derive their main source of livelihood from raising livestock. More than 75 per cent of registered ﬂocks have between 50 and 250 head of sheep. Over the years Bedouin have shown marginal proﬁts and even losses in raising sheep. Nevertheless household heads persist in raising sheep mainly for (1) maintenance of Bedouin traditional lifestyle; (2) a claim to the land; (3) some income, including household dairy products and meat; and (4) a means to hold their money. Bedouin appear to be integrating into the Israel urban economy while maintaining many of their cultural traditions. Nonetheless a small number of households will continue to practice agropastoralism. The word ‘Bedouin’ is derived from the Arabic word badawi, man of the desert. Bedouin are envisioned as nomadic inhabitants of the desert, living in tents and depending solely on raising sheep, goats and camels for their livelihood. In the past, they were known for their bravery and warring ways and claimed land by ‘force’. The nomads considered themselves as ‘true-noble’ or real Bedouin in contrast to those who were semisedentary and who practised both arable agriculture and livestock husbandry for their livelihood. Approximately 1000 Bedouin families, or less than 10 per cent...
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