Project Leaders

The driving force behind the project.

X

Dr Anna Songhurst
Field and Program Director

Dr. Graham McCulloch
Policy Director

Dr. Amanda Stronza
Research Director

Ohitiseng "Mojita" Mosupi
Field Coordinator

Makata (Max) Baitseng
Tourism Coordinator and Field Technician

EcoExist Community Officers

We partner with individuals in each village who can work closely with us, helping us understand and hear the voices and stories of families throughout the Panhandle. Thirteen of those individuals are employed with us as Ecoexist Community Officers, or ECOs. The ECOs are instrumental in helping us record data on crop-raiding and keeping a strong communication flow between the project and the villages. The ECOs have been especially helpful in setting up kgotla meetings. The kgotla meetings are traditional, village-wide gatherings in which all village matters are discussed openly and at length. The ECOS also work with us to collect data on fields and settlement boundaries for land use planning, and they help us coordinate with farmers to find and experiment with tools for deterring elephants from raiding crops.

X

Most or all farmers with fields are affected by the elephants in my village. They say to me, ‘Farming is never an easy job. It is done only by people who are dedicated and because they have no other choice but farming. It is not good for them to waste their energy and time in a manner that elephants just come in and steal their crops.’” Mathata Kashongo, ECO from the village of Xakao

EcoExist Research Team

Our Ecoexist Research Team includes students, interns, visiting scholars, and volunteers.

Working closely with the Ecoexist Directors, the team brings interdisciplinary, international, and integrative insights to the challenge of fostering coexistence between people and elephants.

Ecoexist PhD Fellows

Our Ecoexist PhD Fellows are leading research in various disciplines and subjects, including elephant ecology, GIS and biodiversity mapping, tourism impacts, and anthropological analysis of human settlements and resource use.

X

"I am driven to study these creatures because I have experienced first-hand not only the joys but also the many trials that accompany life around elephants. I’ve seen wrinkly plate-sized footprints along the road leading towards a devastated community garden, sat quietly in a Land Rover watching and listening to a herd of mothers and calves browsing nearby, and waited helplessly in a line of taxis while a herd of obstinate elephants blocked the road. I want to contribute to developing the scientific knowledge and practical applications that will help reduce the conflict that impacts the lives of people who coexist with elephants." Erin Buchholtz, Ecoexist PhD Fellow

Interns, Visiting Scholars, and Specialists

Ecoexist provides internships and scholarships to citizens of Botswana in various sectors, including the Department of Wildlife and National Parks and the Department of Agriculture, among others. We also count on the insights, collaboration, and guidance of several visiting scholars and specialists.

National Advisory Committee

Representatives from:

Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism

  • Dept. Wildlife & National Parks
  • Dept. Environmental Affairs
  • Dept. Tourism
  • BTO

Ministry of Agriculture

  • Dept. Agricultural Research
  • Dept. of Crop Production
  • Poverty Eradication Programme
  • Department of Forestry

Ministry of Lands and Housing

  • Tawana Land Board
  • Department of Lands

Ministry of Local Government

  • District Commissioners Office
  • Department of Museums
  • Okavango Sub-District Council

Eastern Panhandle Community

  • Village Kgosi’s
  • Farmer representative

Private sector

  • HATAB, BOGA, BOCCIM

NGOs

  • Kalahari Conservation Society
  • KAZA TfCA Secretariat
  • OKACOM

Botswana College of Agriculture

ORI (UB)

Office of the President

Coalition of Advisers

In 2013, the coalition of advisors joined the Ecoexist team in the Okavango to help draft a long-term plan for reducing human-elephant conflicts.

They brought expertise and experiences from Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, Peru, India, England, and the U.S., and from the World Wildlife Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, Amboseli Trust for Elephants, ZSL London Zoo, Cheetah Conservation Botswana, and Arcus Foundation – Great Ape Conservation, among others.

X

"We need to learn from each other if we are to increase effectiveness in conservation." Sarah Durant, London Zoological Society