A Call for Funding in Botswana

By Goitsemang Mmeko

In 2017, the Botswana SFA Hub explored the issue of human-wildlife interaction in the Mmadinare area in Botswana. The study was titled Unearthing the Dynamics of Human and Wildlife Interactions: The Case of Mmadinare Community in the Central Region of Botswana. Human-wildlife interaction is a topical issue that affects the development of grassroots livelihood, the tourism industry, food production and wildlife management. In this study, the hub explored human-wildlife conflict between the Mmadinare community and the elephant rampages that destroy crops and equipment in the ploughing fields. The findings of the study revealed the significant need for Sustainable Community Partnership in addressing human-wildlife conflict in Mmadinare. Therefore, a stakeholder dissemination workshop was held in Mmadinare on 14 August 2018 with the aim of creating sustainable partnerships to address socio-economic issues, such as human-wildlife conflict.

From the local community’s perspective, an educational game park was the best strategy to tackle the problem of human-wildlife conflict. While this idea may sound feasible, it requires a lot of resources, including an in-depth needs assessment involving experts on the environment, wildlife and natural resources as well as education. Since sufficient funds are not available, the idea was halted.

Then, on 22 March 2019, The SFA Botswana research team revisited the community of Mmadinare to look into the community assets that are unexploited and can be used to help alleviate the effects of the challenges posed by wildlife on the community’s livelihoods. The following community assets and resources were identified:

• Lehokojwe and Makome hills
• Matlotla-historic monuments/buildings
• Eco-lodge
• Fish hatchery unit
• Leased land/plots
• Letsibogo Dam
• Dikgathong Dam

To maximize the use of these assets to benefit the residents, community asset training would be ideal in order to help locals learn how to best utilize their resources and assets for their own benefit (income, job creation, etc.). However, although a plan has been arrived at to create a reserve in the area, the lack of funds remains a major constraint. The team would welcome assistance from any donor or friend of the SFA Network.

On Tuesday 14th August, over 300 people attended SFA Botswana's workshop Creating Sustainable Community Partnerships.

The overall goal of the workshop was to establish the significance of Sustainable Community Partnership for addressing pressing social and economic needs using the Mmadinare Human-Wildlife conflict study as a case.  This was to ensure that the findings of this study, conducted July 2017, are shared and taken forward for the benefit of Mmadinare, and many other similar communities. The event took place on Tuesday 14 August 2018 under the theme Creating Sustainable Community Partnerships. The turnout was fantastic, as over 300 people attended including the High Commissioner of Nigeria and Nigerian parliament officials, a representative from World Health Organisation and there was a great attendance from local parastatal organisations.  Many Botswana Ministers were also in attendance including those from the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Tourism led by the Director of Wildlife and National Parks and Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM), were among the many stakeholders who attended.

The local community of Mmadinare, a village in the central district of Botswana, came up with numerous suggestions to tackle the negative effects caused by Human- Wildlife interaction, among them were the following:

  • Culling not killing of elephants.
  • Awareness creation on how to live with elephants.
  • Creation of wildlife camps
  • Establishment of game reserve
  • Tracking and monitoring of elephants’ movement-collaring
  • Building of an educational park

The Director of Operations and Engineering, on behalf of all stakeholders, observed that the problem discussed affects infrastructure development as this is often damaged by elephants. The presence of the Wildlife Director helped in clarifying and identifying the possible options available raised through the community discussion. The Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Botswana underscored the significance of the University of Botswana and both industry and community partnerships in collectively finding a sustainable solution to the issues.

The SFA Hub in Botswana is happy with the progress made so far and plans to have a retreat to map the way forward.

Read the Research Trial Report Here:

‘Unearthing the Dynamics of Human Wildlife Interaction: The Case of Mmadinare Community in the Central Region of Botswana’

Botswana Research Trial


For more information visit The Patriot, Botswana's national Sunday paper, or the University of Botswana's website below:

Unearthing the Dynamics of Human and Wildlife Interactions

On the 10th July 2017, the Batswana research team traveled well to Mmadinare, Botswana where they conducted field research. Goitse, SFA Botswana network partner shares her experience below:

We were well received by the village Chief and elders. The community also received us warmly and they positively shared information with us. They showed a high level of interest during discussions which enabled us to achieve the idea of a Kgotla forum. The positive attitude and response portrayed by the community guaranteed future cooperation. People were very balanced as to what they could also do as a contribution to the problem of human-wildlife interaction. They were familiar with the subject as it transpired that they had already made a proposal for a game reserve through the ‘Community Development Trust’, with the objective of both keeping elephants away from people and at the same time benefiting from them as a tourist attraction.

'This experience brought to the surface that the issue of human-wildlife interaction was not an imagined thing, but rather a reality.'

The venue was conducive for the community forum discussion, as it was a familiar and non-threatening environment. The team managed to achieve our goal because a smooth relationship was established right from the beginning. The community members participated fully and brought to the surface that the issue of human-wildlife interaction was not an imagined thing, but rather a reality.

The team presented itself in a manner that enhanced the reception that they received. There was a free flow of information and people were free to discuss issues and there was no evidence to suggest that they perceived the team as outsiders. They, in fact, felt that a collaborative relationship could be established where they could always consult the team should they need technical or professional assistance.

The harmonious process helped the forum to produce quality results as people shared relevant information.

The forum was focused in terms of identifying the realities of their lives. While they shared concerns relating to their interaction with wildlife, they indicate a desire to co-exist with elephants which demonstrated a high level of maturity, knowledge, and understanding of environmental issues. They even asked to be part of the next network meeting through a representative if it were possible. Overall, people showed eagerness to participate - an attitude that made the whole trip a success.


Scoping Trial, Botswana

Scoping Trials

Sustainable Futures in Africa is an interdisciplinary collective aiming to build understanding, research, and practice in socio-ecological sustainability in Africa. In order for relationships to be built, methodologies to be explored, and to achieve the shared understanding that is aspired for, the SFA network is running trial research projects. These are being run with an emphasis on the trial and error aspect, for researchers to explore the unfamiliar, social scientists exploring hard science and vice versa. Furthermore colleagues in Glasgow will take every opportunity to work with the projects in Nigeria, Uganda, Malawi and Botswana as they develop. All research projects will concern the implementation gap in environmental initiatives through community engagement and public pedagogies.

Botswana is represented by four staff members of the University of Botswana, (two from Department of Adult Education; one from Okavango Research Institute and one from Department of Environmental Science. The Botswana research trial is scheduled to take place in July 2017 with a collaborative partnership including:

The Research Question has been defined as: Unearthing the Dynamics of Human and Wildlife Interactions: The Case of Sepako Community in the Nata Region of Botswana

Professor MmaB Modise outlines the problem formulation and proposed research methods and design below:

Research Proposal

The Botswana team proposed to explore the issue of human-wildlife interaction. This is a topical issue that affects local development like grassroots livelihood, the tourism industry, food production, wildlife management. It also has an international dimension as wildlife moves in and out of the country. During the proposed trial study period, Botswana team intends to look into ways of managing the interaction, especially, the elephant-human interaction.

Botswana, in southern Africa is endowed with wilderness and wildlife, with an increasing elephant population estimated at 130,000-200,000. The threat with elephants is the trail of destruction they leave on their way such as destruction of human property (boreholes, fences ) and crops, human death and injuries. The causes of human wildlife conflicts are documented in literature, being expansion of human development (e.g., settlements) into wildlife habitats, and the intrusion of wildlife species in human settlements. The former is caused by constricting wildlife habitats due to the effects of the latter and consequently resulting in competition of resources.

One mitigation measure came through collaborative conservation initiatives between government and local communities, commonly implemented through CBNRM (Community Based Natural Resource Mgmt) programs. CBNRM is premised on the notion that when communities living within the wildlife areas receive benefits of living with the wildlife resources, and those benefits exceed the cost they incur, then they will effectively manage wild animals and co-exists with them. Another mitigation effort includes chilli pepper and beehive fence deterrents used specifically for the most destructive elephants. While the deterrents have the potential of promoting co-existence, concerns are that the chilli pepper is not locally available and thereby imported externally.

While this may be a challenge, it also presents an opportunity for local communities to venture in chilli pepper production for use as elephant crop raiding deterrent and promote food security. Moreover, since the chilli pepper is not locally produced, local communities can market the pepper in elephant prone areas of Botswana as an economic activity, thereby improving their socio-economic livelihoods. The proposed project will thereby explore the potential of production of the chilli pepper within one local community in Botswana as a means of promoting  i) human wildlife interaction and consequently co-existence and ii) improvement of rural livelihoods. It is anticipated that producing the chilli pepper locally will contribute to local economies while deterring elephants from crop destruction will contribute to food security.

Data Collection

In this type of research, researchers come with an understanding that community members “know best what their own needs are, and with genuine participation, they can make great contribution, (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hppb/wired/community.html. Actually, Heron (1996) warns that "to generate knowledge about persons without their full participation in deciding how to generate it, is to misrepresent their personhood and to abuse by neglect their capacity for autonomous intentionally. It is fundamentally unethical" (p. 21).

Research Schedule

The research is being conducted in early July. The research team is heading to the Nata District, Botswana on Sunday 9th July. On the 10th and 11th and 12th July the research team conduct community based qualitative research comprising of focus groups and other ethnographic research focusing on the human wildlife interaction hot spots. The research team will be using a vast array of data collection methods such as photography, video filming and voice recording to gather the data required to support a mixed-method analysis of the context.

Nata District, Botswana: 

In Partnership with