On the 10th July 2017, the Batswana research team traveled well to Mmadinare, Botswana where they conducted field research. Goitse, SFA Botswana network partner shares her experience below:
We were well received by the village Chief and elders. The community also received us warmly and they positively shared information with us. They showed a high level of interest during discussions which enabled us to achieve the idea of a Kgotla forum. The positive attitude and response portrayed by the community guaranteed future cooperation. The People were very balanced as to what they could also do as a contribution to the problem of human-wildlife interaction. They were familiar with the subject as it transpired that they had already made a proposal for a game reserve through the ‘Community Development Trust’, with the objective of both keeping elephants away from people and at the same time benefiting from them as a tourism attraction.
‘This experience brought to the surface that the issue of human-wildlife interaction was not an imagined thing, but rather a reality.’
The venue was conducive for the community forum discussion, as it was a familiar and non-threatening environment. The team managed to achieve our goal because a smooth relationship was established right from the beginning. The community members participated fully and brought to the surface that the issue of human-wildlife interaction was not an imagined thing, but rather a reality.
The team presented itself in a manner that enhanced the reception that they received. There was free flow of information and people were free to discuss issues and there was no evidence to suggest that they perceived the team as outsiders. They in fact felt that a collaborative relationship could be established where they could always consult the team should they need technical or professional assistance.
The harmonious process helped the forum to produce quality results as people shared relevant information.
The forum was focused in terms of identifying the realities of their lives. While they shared concerns relating to their interaction with wild life, they indicate a desire to co-exist with elephants which demonstrated a high level of maturity, knowledge and understanding environmental issues. They even asked to be part of the next network meeting through a representative if it were possible. In overall, people showed eagerness to participate – an attitude that made the whole trip a success.