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Pastoralists’ Perception and Ecological Knowledge on Savanna Ecosystem Dynamics in Semi-arid Botswana

Olaotswe Kgosikoma, Department of Agricultural Research; University of Edinburgh
Witness Mojeremane, Botswana College of Agriculture
Barbra A. Harvie, University of Edinburgh


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We investigated vegetation dynamics in relation to livestock grazing as perceived by pastoral farmers in different regions of Botswana. A structured questionnaire was used to collect farmers’ understanding of vegetation changes and causes within three different grazing lands. The pastoral farmers’ description of dominant vegetation differed significantly both at the local and district level, which suggests that rangelands consist of patches dominated by different grasses and woody vegetation. Most pastoralists indicated that grass composition has undergone changes, and unpalatable grasses such as Aristida congesta and Megaloprotachne albescens are increasing. The different factors perceived by pastoral farmers to cause changes in vegetation composition included rainfall, overgrazing, and fire. Bush encroachment is considered to be more common in communal grazing land than in ranches. According to pastoral farmers, the ranching system is less degrading to the environment and more sustainable for livestock production than is communal grazing.

Key words

communal grazing; indigenous ecological knowledge, livestock; ranching; rangeland degradation

Copyright © 2012 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087