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Title:Drought, cattle-keeping, and range degradation in the Kalahari, Botswana
Author:Perkins, J.S.
Book title:Pastoral economies in Africa and long-term responses to drought
Geographic term:Botswana
soil fertility
animal husbandry
Abstract:Drought appears to follow a cyclical pattern in Botswana, with each dry group of years serving to drastically reduce the national cattle herd and accentuate fears of rangeland degradation. Recovery of primary biomass is attributed to the resilience of the Kalahari, which, it is argued, could be reduced by both commercialization and increased borehole densities. Despite an array of incentives, voluntary reductions of stocking rates are unlikely to occur, leading to increasingly spectacular crashes of the borehole dependent cattle population when drought hits. Existing socioeconomic inequalities are exacerbated by drought, with small herd owners and the stockless facing disproportionate losses. The Botswana government's drought relief programme has effectively prevented widespread malnutrition, but in the absence of schemes to promote livestock ownership and other viable means of self-determination, it will also be instrumental in maintaining herders and other sandveld dwellers at subsistence level. Bibliogr.