Finding ways to reduce human elephant conflict and promote coexistence, including improving HEC mitigation techniques, land use planning, conservation agriculture and building an elephant economy to find solutions for people and elephants, combined with a

The Howard G, Buffett Foundation; USAID Resilient Waters Programme; USAID - WWF Combating Wildlife Crime Project; GoodPlanet Foundation; Dutch Lottery-WWF Namibia Project; European Commission, 11th European Development Fund - Supporting Eco-tourism Develo
Department of Wildlife and National Parks; Ministry of Agriculture's Department of Crop Production and Department of AgriBusiness; Tawana Land Board and Seronga sub-landboard; Department of Tourism; the DiKgosi and Community Village Development Committees
The Ecoexist Project is a long-term program aimed at reducing human elephant conflicts (HEC) and fostering coexistence. We seek to support the lives and livelihoods of people who share space and resources with elephants in the Okavango Delta region, while considering the needs of elephants. Our holistic approach focuses on the following five impact objectives: 1) Improve short-term strategies for conflict management by working with, and for the government and communities to develop a Community Based Conflict Mitigation approach that incorporates shared responsibility, human-human conflict resolution, and a set of holistic and innovative HEC mitigation techniques. 2) Inform land use planning to consider and protect elephant movement corridors in order to allow people and elephants to share resources and space. 3) Improve farmer resilience to the effects of elephant crop raiding by improving agricultural techniques, including cropping system innovations and conservation agriculture practices. 4) Facilitate private sector support for an “elephant economy” for people to gain economic benefits from living in close proximity to elephants, through community-based tourism and other micro-enterprise. 5) Conduct satellite collaring telemetry studies and population surveys of elephants to augment our understanding of elephant numbers and movements in northern Botswana, in order to inform national and regional management strategies related to elephants and HEC.

Moving from conflict to coexistence requires a number of focused, integrated management tools and strategies that provide short and long-term solutions. Our holistic approach includes working with famers to develop and deploy effective tools for deterring elephants from crop-raiding and avoiding negative confrontations; facilitating land use planning in collaboration with government land boards and local communities to consider critical elephant movement corridors; leading agricultural experiment and innovation to improve farmer resilience to the impacts of crop raiding by elephants; facilitating tourism and other micro-enterprise development so local communities can benefit from sharing space with elephants, and; conducting applied, multidisciplinary research with a team of local and international students. The overarching goal is to create an enabling environment for policies and on-the-ground programs and incentives to reduce HEC and allow elephants and people to coexist.

Our strategies are evidence-based and designed and carried out in close collaboration with all stakeholders, in a participatory way. We connect science with policy, supporting informed decision-making through our research and field based evidence. In doing so, we are strengthening the existing work of government agencies, local communities, regional stakeholders, and the private sector by facilitating collaboration, communication, capacity building, and information exchange. Full stakeholder participation is a key component of our approach in the design, planning, implementation and evaluation of our activities. 

In working towards our goal of reducing HEC, we are also addressing broader development and conservation issues, such as food security and economic development for rural communities, sustainable resource management, and regional HEC resolution that supports transfrontier conservation initiatives.

The project is administered through the Ecoexist Trust, a Botswana-based NGO with community representation. Ecoexist Trust is partnering with Oxford University and a U.S.-based university, Texas A&M, in order to lead interdisciplinary research and gather important baseline and monitoring data in a participatory way. 

Ecoexist directors, Dr. Anna Songhurst, and Dr. Graham McCulloch are constantly mentoring and collaborating closely with interns, technicians, and local and international students to fill knowledge gaps in the search for innovative solutions to HEC. We are also collaborating with and providing capacity-building opportunities for local authorities, relevant public sector department personnel, and other national and international stakeholders. 

Communal areas adjacent to Okavango Delta Ramsar Site & WHS, & border of WMAs - NG1,2,3,4,10,11,12,13
Specific Area (Village, Town, District, Province): 
HQ of the Initiative: 
Maun, Botswana and field station in Eretsha village, Okavango panhandle
2008 to 2021
Elaborate on likelihood to extend: 
We have secured funding for at least another three years of implementation for some of the major strategic objectives and their respective activity components.
Thematic Focus: 
Agriculture, Community Livelihood Dev, HWC mitigation, Integrated Land Use Planning & Implementation
1st Contact Name: 
Anna Songhurst
1st Contact Email: 
2nd Contact Name: 
Graham McCulloch
2nd Contact Email: