Understanding farmers' reasons behind mitigation decisions is key in supporting their coexistence with wildlife

Susanne Marieke Vogel*, Anna Catherine Songhurst, Graham McCulloch, Amanda Stronza

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Coexistence between wildlife and farmers can be challenging and can endanger the lives of both, prompting the provisioning of mitigation methods by governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). However, provision of materials, demonstration of the effectiveness of methods or willingness to uptake a method do not predict uptake of methods. We used ethnographic decision models to understand how farmers' work through the decisions of uptake or non-uptake of methods to mitigate crop consumption by elephants, and how the government and NGOs can either enable or impede the ability of farmers to protect themselves and their crops. While farmers were motivated to use methods if they received or could afford to buy materials and they believed in the effectiveness of the methods, they still did not use them if they considered a method to be dangerous, or issues with elephants not to be severe enough, or when the supply of materials or income was not sufficient. Methods were not even considered by farmers if they lacked awareness or knowledge of the method. Government departments and NGOs enabled farmers to mitigate elephant crop consumption by providing opportunities for cash income, and providing materials and knowledge. Yet, there was disparity between the materials farmers received and methods they wished to adopt. One-off inputs of materials did not result in sustainable use of mitigation methods. We see an opportunity for governmental departments or NGOs to stimulate logistics (e.g. roads and retail) to increase availability of mitigation materials since this promoted farmer autonomy. We also highlight the importance of empowering farmers by facilitating within community sharing of mitigation ideas and increasing knowledge about the effectiveness of promising wildlife conscious farming, as despite promising farmer testimonies, only a few farmers used these techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1305-1318
Number of pages14
JournalPeople and Nature
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • crop consumption
  • ethnographic decision model
  • human–elephant coexistence
  • wildlife conscious farming


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