Climate crisis ravages Uttarakhand’s nomadic herders as government looks away

With extreme weather hurting their precious cattle and seasonal migration, the long-neglected pastoral tribe of Van Gujjars is fighting a dire—and lonely—battle for survival.

This story was supported by the Pulitzer Center.

Mustafa Lodha is a worried man, the list of his troubles running long. “When it rained heavily [in 2023], all the places where our cattle were housed were filled with water. Our settlements got washed away. Fodder worth Rs 60,000 got swept away. Due to landslides, our settlements got buried under the rubble.” 

Lodha, 55, is a Van Gujjar. The nomadic pastoral community inhabits the foothills of Himalayan states like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. He, along with his nearly 500 buffaloes, lives in the Shyampur range of the Rajaji …



Sushmita is an award winning journalist, researcher, multimedia artist and former engineer with over 15 years of experience across sectors. She works on climate change, environment, forests, gender-based violence and more. She can be reached at