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A study to document indigenous knowledge (IK) and best-bet practices (BBPs)was carried out during Phase I (2003-2004) of Desert Margins Programme (DMP), whose overall objective is to arrest land degradation in the desert margins of Africa through demonstration and capacity building activities. The documentation work was executed in Bobirwa Sub-district and Kgalagadi District using a structured questionnaire, the sample size of which depended on the identification ability of initial informants for more respondents. The study showed the importance of IK on the effective functioning of the traditional leadership to monitor-and-ensure adherence. Traditional leadership played an important role in protecting some animals and trees and continuously ensured there were active advisors to assist in monitoring the environment. The study further showed that past (indigenous and best-bet) practices were labour intensive and capable of exploiting limited amounts of natural resources which could only satisfy the needs at household level. The predominant existing practices in both districts are the vegetation practices. These practices such as selective cutting of trees, grass cutting using hands or sickle, and harvesting medicinal roots/tubers by replacing soil thereafter, have contributed to sound management of natural resources. Arable practices have, however, undergone some phenomenal transformation including use of tractors for cultivating large areas across the slope. Expanding human population and its associated demands on the environment necessitate the impending need to realign conflicting legislation and implement environment-compatible policies to sustain existing BBPs.
Keywords: Botswana, indigenous knowledge (IK), past and existing best-bet practices (BBPs), sustainable natural resources management
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