Conflict between people and elephants in Africa is widespread yet many solutions target the symptoms, rather than the underlying causes, of this conflict. To manage this conflict better the underlying causes of the problem need to be examined. Here we examine factors underlying spatial use by elephants and people along the Okavango Panhandle in Ngamiland, northern Botswana, to provide ways to address the causes of the conflict between elephants and people. We found that (1) elephant spatial use was a function of season, (2) spatial use did not differ between breeding herds and bull groups, (3) spatial use by elephants and people only overlapped significantly at night, during the dry season, (4) crop raiding by elephants was a function of season and social grouping, and (5) crop raiding by elephants had social and economic implications. Based on these results we suggest measures to manipulate elephant spatial use to reduce the causes of this conflict. We also reflect on present compensation measures for elephant crop damage and advocate that a more direct performance payment approach may benefit both the Botswana Government and local farmers.