This article contributes to the field of natural resource conflict management by investigating the holistic context of a conflict case and argues against a simple resource scarcity-conflict thesis. The article takes point of departure in a pragmatic world view of conflicts in Laikipia County, Kenya through a likert-type questionnaire survey (N = 352), semi-structured interviews, extensive field notes and participant observation. Using an adapted version of the Unifying Negotiation Framework (UNF) to conduct an in-depth context analysis, the article shows the multitude of ecological, social and institutional factors which impact on the conflict complex. The critical features of the conflict from the perspective of pastoralists and farmers in Laikipia were found to be related to trust, communication, security, governance, marginalisation and violence. By conducting a thorough conflict context analysis incorporating social, ecological and institutional elements, valuable insights can be gleaned, leading to a more holistic conflict management approach.