Elephants, safety nets and agrarian culture: understanding human-wildlife conflict and rural livelihoods around Chobe National Park, Botswana


  • A. Clare Gupta


This article chronicles the livelihood strategies of smallholder farmers in the village of Naledi2 on the edge of Chobe National Park in northern Botswana (Figure 1). Here, the presence of wildlife weighs heavily on peoples' lives. Elephants roam the village and raid arable fields, leaving a wake of destruction as they move freely, protected under conservation law, through an extensive mosaic of designated park land, forest reserves and wildlife management areas that encircle human settlements. For some farmers, crop raiding by 'problem animals' such as elephants is one of the reasons that they have stopped farming their larger arable landholdings, intended for both commercial and subsistence purposes, and now only grow a few fruits and vegetables in small backyard gardens. Others continue to farm, but lament the prevalence of crop raiding by elephants and express little hope that their farming efforts will yield a harvest with commercial or even subsistence value.