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An ancient practice is in danger

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Despite recognition by the United Nations, the future of nomadism is far from certain.

In Italy, and elsewhere in Europe, the number of sheep and cattle involved in the migration has fallen from the millions until the 1950s to only tens of thousands today.

The industrialization of animal husbandry, combined with economies of scale and urban sprawl, has made the practice financially difficult and logistically complex, requiring endless permits.

Selling wool was a lucrative business, but with world market prices so low, shepherds could not even give it away for free. Milk and cheese, which farmers may charge for a higher quality, are not only the main product, but usually the only product.

And climate change, with grasslands at risk of prolonged drought, is an ever-increasing risk. Just like diseases.

Carmelina Colantuno is an award-winning educator caciocavalloButter cheese flavored with herbs and wild herbs.

She spends summers in Molise, a sparsely populated mountainous region, and winters in Puglia, the heel of the Italian boot. She travels between the two regions accompanied by about 300 Podulica cows on horseback, sleeping in the open air to observe the cattle during the journey, which takes about a week and 200 kilometers.

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