Lions, Livestock, and Livelihoods: Understanding Human-Predator Relationships in Botswana

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Doctor of Philosophy
Title Lions, Livestock, and Livelihoods: Understanding Human-Predator Relationships in Botswana
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2017
This research examines interactions between local people and predators as they are
shaped by land use policy in Botswana. Human relationships with wildlife are influenced by
livelihood strategies; livelihood choices, in turn, are shaped by governmental designation of
land use. I investigate how livelihoods and land use interact to determine the costs and
benefits local people derive from wildlife, and how those costs and benefits influence
attitudes towards and tolerance of wildlife. This dissertation focuses on two rural villages
located on either side of a wildlife-agriculture boundary in the Okavango Delta.
This dissertation has three objectives: 1) investigate how 16 years of participation in
the CBNRM program has shaped participants’ knowledge of community-based
conservation, 2) evaluate how livelihood strategies have affected human-predator
relationships, and 3) assess the linkages between local human-predator relationships,
national land-use policies, and the behavior of large predators in the Okavango Delta.
To address the first objective, analysis was performed on qualitative interviews.
Responses from interviews revealed participation in CBNRM has led to increased knowledge
and sense of ownership of CBNRM as well as increased perceived benefits from the
program. For the second objective, I asked residents about their attitudes towards and
tolerance of lions and elephants in the village participating in CBNRM as well as residents in
the neighboring village in the agricultural zone. I found significant differences in attitudes
between residents in the wildlife zone and residents in the agricultural zone. The difference
in tolerance to elephants and lions was less pronounced.
Finally, I used a social-ecological approach to reveal how land-use policy influences
relationships between local villagers and wildlife. I found that land use designations have
placed serious constraints on the livelihood options for people in both villages, while
simultaneously giving people in both villages access to new international markets, namely
safari tourism for the wildlife area and beef export for the agricultural side. In this context,
lions have become important drivers of both markets. These results highlight the
importance of evaluating community-based conservation projects, as well as human-wildlife
conflict, not in a vacuum but as part of a wider social-ecological system.

Related studies