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Labor costs and crop protection from wildlife predation: the case of elephants in Gabon


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Crop raiding by wildlife decreases agricultural productivity and hinders efforts to reduce poverty throughout the world and especially in Africa. Efforts to reduce crop raiding in developing countries generally involve prescriptive “low-cost” protection methods at the level of the individual farm, under the assumption that monetary capital and knowledge are the principal limiting factors in farmers’ adoption of protection methods. This article highlights the importance of considering labor costs in addition to monetary costs when assessing the adoptability of protection strategies. Benefit-cost analysis is used to inform a theoretical model of the likelihood of farmer adoption of methods to protect crops against elephants in Gabon. Supported by empirical findings from a binomial logit model of farmers’ protection decisions, this analysis elucidates the low rate of adoption for known protection methods in Gabon. While the empirical data are specific to Gabon, this analysis frames a reflection process regarding labor optimization and alternative strategies that applies broadly.