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Survival strategists among the Bedouins living in the driest regions of the Sinai Peninsula

Survival strategists among the Bedouins living in the driest regions of the Sinai Peninsula

Mr. Leizer Bergman
Israel Nature and Parks Authority, Israel

The Bedouin society living in the driest regions of the Sinai Peninsula are among the last nomadic societies demonstrating traditional strategies of survival in arid and hyperarid regions receiving less than 50-30 mm on average, subjected to long periods of droughts. These strategists were practiced during the last hundred years and were probably inherited from ancient pastoral and nomadic societies inhabiting these desert regions for thousands of years.

Several case studies, documented in Central Sinai region during the years 1970-1979, will be presented:

1: The Ahiwat Bedouin tribe, living in Central Sinai along "Darb el Hag', was exposed to 5 years of drought following the great flood event in Wadi el Arish drainage basin at 1975. However, this Bedouin community, subsidized mainly on herding of goats and camels, showed high adaptation to the long-term extreme aridity. During the successive drought years, the herds were directed to grazing areas in increasing distance from a main central well. At the fifth year of drought, the distance between the well and the grazing area, organized in a circle around the well, reached 40 km. Camels were sent to the well to carry water to keep the goat herd alive. Inspite the harsh desert environment imposing poverty on this society, people of this tribe remain proud and happy.

2: Grazing and dwelling strategies practiced among Bedouin families living in the Egma Plateau, the most isolated and dry region of Central Sinai. These strategies were enabling rehabilitation of the natural vegetation after heavy grazing.

3. The development of local water resources by the Bedouin inhabitants of Central Sinai, mainly by the excavation of new well in selected locations based on good understanding of the local geodiversity and hydrology.

The special adaptation skills demonstrated by the present Bedouin population of Central Sinai are shading light on the ability of ancient nomadic- pastoral societies to occupy this harsh desert land for centuries, inspite climatic fluctuations that were imposed on this land during the Holocene.

The extended abstract and supplementary material