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Solutions for elephant Loxodonta africana crop raiding in northern Botswana: moving away from symptomatic approaches

Tim P. Jacksona1, Sibangani Mosojanea1 p1, Sam M. Ferreiraa1 and Rudi J. van Aardea1 c1

a1 Conservation Ecology Research Unit, Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Hatfield 0028, South Africa.

Abstract

Conflict between people and elephants in Africa is widespread yet many solutions target the symptoms, rather than the underlying causes, of this conflict. To manage this conflict better the underlying causes of the problem need to be examined. Here we examine factors underlying spatial use by elephants and people along the Okavango Panhandle in Ngamiland, northern Botswana, to provide ways to address the causes of the conflict between elephants and people. We found that (1) elephant spatial use was a function of season, (2) spatial use did not differ between breeding herds and bull groups, (3) spatial use by elephants and people only overlapped significantly at night, during the dry season, (4) crop raiding by elephants was a function of season and social grouping, and (5) crop raiding by elephants had social and economic implications. Based on these results we suggest measures to manipulate elephant spatial use to reduce the causes of this conflict. We also reflect on present compensation measures for elephant crop damage and advocate that a more direct performance payment approach may benefit both the Botswana Government and local farmers.

(Received December 07 2006)

(Reviewed February 12 2007)

(Accepted June 08 2007)

Correspondence:

c1 Conservation Ecology Research Unit, Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Hatfield 0028, South Africa. E-mail rjvaarde@zoology.up.ac.za

p1 Current address: BIOKAVANGO/Tawana Land Board, P.O. Box 134, Maun, Botswana.

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