The Elephant in Her Backyard, Part Two

ABOUT ELEPHANTS

Subsistence farmers depend on hard work and luck. About 70% of rural households in Botswana derive their livelihoods from subsistence farming crops dependent upon seasonal rains. As a consequence of low and erratic rainfall and relatively poor soils, such farms have low productivity.

Keikagile (Kee-ka-HEE-lay) owns such a farm, in the panhandle of the Okavango Delta. But she has one large problem most subsistence farmers do not have: elephants. Her field is close to one of the most frequently used pathways used by generations of elephants as they move south in April and June from the drying pans near Namibia to the waters of the Okavango River. A night’s raid by a single herd of elephants could destroy her entire crop.

Photograph by Dr. Amanda Stronza Keikagile, Photograph by Dr. Amanda Stronza

In her book Coming of Age with Elephants: A Memoir, elephant researcher Joyce Poole writes: “Imagine having your entire livelihood destroyed by…

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