It is widely recognised that government intervention in development issues can shape people's perceptions and experiences. This study examined the influence of a Ministry-based extension system on community-based, problem animal control and perceptions among local arable farmers at the eastern Okavango Panhandle in northern Botswana. Using a survey of 388 arable farmers and key informant interviews, our results showed that participation of local people in the implementation of the participatory project was vital for improving people's perceptions and gaining adoption of the innovations, and significantly contributing to project outcomes. Lack of people participation in decision making, the extent to which farmers perceived extension agents as trustworthy, the number of extension agents and extension delivery methods were found to be important factors explaining farmers' perceptions and adoption decisions. Analyses also indicated that knowledge development alone (which is a form of community empowerment) was not enough to encourage participation and innovation adoption. Village project committee (VPC) members' and farmers' remarks about their socioeconomic hardships suggested that they preferred economic incentives over any other incentives. This suggests that community's immediate needs for livelihood and food security are among the locally pressing needs that should be addressed to drive people's commitment to the project. From a policy perspective, our results underscore the need to implement comprehensive interventions that address wildlife management and community development, and actively involve local people in management and decision making to achieve sustainability in human elephant conflict management. There is need, therefore, for government (particularly the wildlife departments) to provide an institutional structure for supporting community-based governance for the purpose of ensuring effective and sustainable wildlife management and conservation.