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Ecoexist PhD Fellow, Rocío Pozo, joins us in Botswana all the way from Chile, where she earned her degree in Veterinary Medicine. Rocío is currently pursuing her PhD in Zoology at the University of Oxford. With the Ecoexist Research Team, she is studying elephant population dynamics and spatial foraging behavior.

Here’s Rocio, in her own words.

From an early stage in my career, I was involved in various projects around South America, such as The Andean Mountain Cat Conservation Project and Animal Geographic Variation in Behavioural Profiles. I obtained my Vet degree in 2009 from the University of Chile, for which I developed my thesis on female mating choices in Octodon degus. I then applied the skills I had learnt so far in my MSc (Conservation Science, Imperial College London 2011), for which I studied habitat-species association in the Hispaniolan solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus) in the Dominican Republic, one of the most amazing experiences ever.

The last few years of working with inter-disciplinary groups from around the world have been an amazing experience, and I am planning to keep on doing it for my PhD with Ecoexist! My main interest is applying behavioural knowledge to solve conservation problems. The aim of my PhD is to explore elephant population dynamics and spatial foraging behaviour in order to apply spatially predictive models to elephant and human populations.




My project is supervised by Dr. Anna Songhurst, Dr. Amanda Stronza and Dr. Graham McCulloch (Ecoexist Project Directors), in collaboration with Dr. Aurelio Malo and Prof. Tim Coulson (University of Oxford). I have been looking at elephant movement patterns and herd structure, using both satellite collars and cameras traps, respectively. We hope these findings will be useful for improving our understanding of current and future human-elephant conflicts in the northeast Okavango Delta, and for ensuring coexistence for the benefit of both people and wildlife.