Elephants are Like Our Diamonds: Recentralizing Community Based Natural Resource Management in Botswana, 1996-­2012

by Parakh Hoon


When the Botswana parliament passed a Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) policy in 2007, ten years after its implementation, the formal policy rejected some of the basic precepts of community based conservation-those who face the costs of living in close proximity to wildlife should receive a major share of benefits. In the national debate over the CBNRM policy, benefits from wildlife were seen analogous to diamonds to be shared by the nation. The paper explains how and why Botswana’s CBNRM policy took this direction through an analysis of three key aspects: subnational bureaucratic and community‑level decision‑making, national political economy and shifting coalition dynamics in a dominant one party system, and the contestation between transnational indigenous peoples’ networks and the Botswana government. By understanding the CBNRM process as it unfolded at the national, district, and local level over an extended period of time, the paper provides a longitudinal argument about CBNRM recentralization in Botswana.

Full Text PDF

Parakh Hoon’s research focuses on the political ecology of wildlife conservation in southern Africa. He is working on a book manuscript Conserving Nature in a Developmental State, which is a political history of wildlife conservation and state building in Botswana (forthcoming with Lexington Press).