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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 226-237

Hunter-Gatherers, Farmers, and Environmental Degradation in Botswana

1 Current Affiliation: Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
2 Current Affiliation: JustConservation, Huelva, Spain
3 Current Affiliation: Kalahari Peoples Fund, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Correspondence Address:
Nicholas Winer
JustConservation, Huelva
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cs.cs_19_87

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Many governments and conservation organisations have argued that hunter-gatherers, farmers and pastoralists are responsible, in considerable part, for environmental degradation and biodiversity losses in southern Africa. Particular attention has been paid to alleged wildlife losses, especially elephants in Botswana. This article considers some of the issues surrounding hunting bans and protected areas with a view to conserving elephants. In Botswana, local people were removed from protected areas after being blamed for declines in wildlife numbers. Utilising government and other scientific wildlife data, the hunting ban cannot be shown to have had any significant impact on the conservation of elephants and other game species. Local people argue that many of their activities are sustainable, maintaining that they are generally not responsible for biodiversity losses and environmental degradation. Population growth, the expansion of agricultural, livestock and mining activities, the construction of veterinary cordon fences and increases in water point distribution have led to localised environmental degradation. The 'great elephant debate' became an important political issue during the run-up to the Botswana elections of October 2019. Local communities sought to ensure that they would be able to obtain benefits from wildlife tourism which had been denied them during the hunting ban.

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