Insight and inspiration
Dr. Graham McCulloch
Graham is a co-founder and Director of The Ecoexist Project, a long-term conservation program aimed at reducing human elephant conflict and finding solutions for coexistence between elephants and people in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Hailing from Dublin and a conservation ecologist by profession, Graham has spent the last 23 years living and working in the southern African country of Botswana. Aged 21, and armed with a Zoology Degree and a Swiss army knife, Graham moved to Botswana seeking a career in wildlife conservation.
Following 4-years working in Botswana’s thriving wildlife-based tourism industry, Graham learned a great deal about the country’s biodiversity and its sustainable utilisation. Keen to push the knowledge boundary, however, he returned to academia and, in 2003, he was awarded a PhD at Trinity College Dublin, following three years of field research on the ecology of one of Botswana’s largest wetlands. Establishing his own business, he then became a seasoned consultant, writing environmental impact assessments and management plans for some of the countries most renowned wildlife areas.
With an appetite to make a difference, Graham continued his independent conservation work and was short listed for a number of conservation awards, winning a Whitley Conservation Award in 2005. He co-established two protected areas in the years that followed, until he joined his wife and elephant expert, Anna Songhurst and anthropologist, Amanda Stronza to set up Ecoexist.
Graham found a common desire among his co-directors to seek practical, on-the-ground solutions to key conservation issues that delivered impact to both wildlife and the people who live with them. At Ecoexist, he is working hard to build resilience among subsistence farmers who share space with elephants, empowering them with strategies to effectively protect their fields, intensify agriculture practice and increase yields while building sustainability, and generating enterprise for value added products marketed as “elephant aware”. All contributing to practical and lasting solutions to achieve sustainable development and coexistence.