Dr Anna Songhurst
Founder and Director, Ecoexist Trust
Anna Songhurst is a conservation biologist, specializing in elephants and human-elephant interactions. She has been working and conducting research on human-elephant conflict issues in Botswana for the past 20 years and has a good understanding of Botswana’s conservation issues and the policy and legislative environment. Anna has devoted her life to elephant conservation and finding ways to reduce human-elephant conflict. She studied Zoology at Trinity College Dublin (1998-2002), moved to Botswana in 2003 to gain experience in the field and conducted her PhD on “Competition between People and Elephants in the Okavango Panhandle, Botswana” at Imperial College London between 2008-2011. In 2013, Anna co-founded and continues to direct the NGO Ecoexist Trust (www.ecoexistproject.org), which aims to reduce human-elephant conflicts (HEC) and foster coexistence between humans and elephants. Ecoexist takes a holistic approach that includes supporting and improving short-term mitigation strategies, improving farming practices for improved food security, informing appropriate land use planning that incorporates elephant corridors, and facilitating enterprise development to increase benefits among communities living with elephants. Anna helped to establish the Botswana Human Wildlife Coexistence Working Group, a forum which brings all relevant stakeholders together to discuss and advise on human-wildlife conflict issues in Botswana. She is an active member of the IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group and has facilitated the establishment of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) Elephant Sub Working Group and its associated forum of elephant conservation practitioners in the Kavango Zambezi region.