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Mobile pastoralists provide major contributions to the gross domestic product in Chad, but little information is available regarding their demography. The Lake Chad area population is increasing, resulting in competition for scarce land and water resources. For the first time, the density of people and animals from mobile and sedentary populations was assessed using randomly defined sampling areas. Four sampling rounds were conducted over two years in the same areas to show population density dynamics. We identified 42 villages of sedentary communities in the sampling zones; 11 (in 2010) and 16 (in 2011) mobile pastoralist camps at the beginning of the dry season and 34 (in 2011) and 30 (in 2012) camps at the end of the dry season. A mean of 64.0 people per km2 (95% confidence interval, 20.3-107.8) were estimated to live in sedentary villages. In the mobile communities, we found 5.9 people per km2 at the beginning and 17.5 people per km2 at the end of the dry season. We recorded per km2 on average 21.0 cattle and 31.6 small ruminants in the sedentary villages and 66.1 cattle and 102.5 small ruminants in the mobile communities, which amounts to a mean of 86.6 tropical livestock units during the dry season. These numbers exceed, by up to five times, the published carrying capacities for similar Sahelian zones. Our results underline the need for a new institutional framework. Improved land use management must equally consider the needs of mobile communities and sedentary populations.
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