Lions, Livestock, and Livelihoods: Understanding Human-Predator Relationships in Botswana
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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.
Jacobsen, Nicolas Fisher (2017). Lions, Livestock, and Livelihoods: Understanding Human-Predator Relationships in Botswana. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from