Thursday, September 22, 2005

1960s survey: local knowledge of ecology

From 1965 to 1967 Graham Child carried out a survey of the ecology of northeastern Botswana for the Government of Botswana, to investigate the possibility of opening up northern Crown Lands for the development of the cattle industry, bearing in mind the desirability of conserving game. The survey covered some 50,000 miles and included interviews with government officials, traders, hunters, tribemen and bushmen. Child notes:
"... this information often included accurate observations over a number of generations from a limited area, and frequently when people were asked about conditions in places over 30 or 40 miles away, the reply was to the effect that that was another territory about which they knew little and therefore could not offer an opinion. This rendered such unbiased observations especially valuable, despite the difficulty of assigning accurate dates to particular events. If this report contributes to an understanding of wildlife and its problems in northeastern Botswana, it is through the recording and limited interpretation of much of what is locally common knowledge to many of the rural people."
An Ecological Survey of Northeastern Botswana is in the Peter Smith Collection at the HOORC Library.

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