Meet the Pugees

by Nipun Prabhakar
Kutch district, Gujarat

Collage of the pugees, left: front profile of a pugee in a turban and right of them identifying foorprints-pastoralist in India

Belonging to the Maldhari community, Pugees are men who are uniquely skilled at detecting information about people—their weight, gender, gait, and even hereditary features—simply by reading their footprints. As a nomadic community, the Maldharis traverse vast arid landscapes with their herds, and the Pugees use their abilities to ensure the safety of the animals. The mere presence of a Pugee is a deterrent for potential thieves. They also work with the police to identify criminals.

And that is not all. Pugees are employed at the borders of India and Pakistan even today, with border security forces of both countries inviting them to trace the footsteps of infiltrators that cross the desert on either side of the border.

Nipun Prabhakar is an independent photographer and architect based in Kutch and Delhi. This story was originally published on Pastoral Times. Read the full story here.

Pastoral Times is a content partner for #groundupstories on IDR.

Know more: Read about how the development discourse in India often excludes Adivasi communities.

Do more: Connect with the author at to understand more about and support his work.

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