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“The Ecoexist Project: Pathways to Coexistence”
Richard Hughes

“The Ecoexist Project: Pathways to Coexistence”

Official selection : "The American Conservation Film Festival 2015" Human-Elephant Conflict in the Eastern Okavango Panhandle. A short documentary film made voluntarily by Richard Hughes for the Ecoexist Project. The film is a production of the Ecoexist Project, a collaborative effort of farmers, scientists, village leaders, policy makers, and business people, working together to find solutions to human-elephant conflict. The story is set in the Eastern Okavango Panhandle, where 15,000 people share space and resources with 15,000 elephants. The 18-minute feature includes voices and experiences of people who live every day with elephants and know first-hand the challenges of competing for space, food, and land with the world’s largest population of free-roaming elephants. The film’s director and cameraman, Richard Hughes from Edge 2 Edge Films, a UK company, spent over a year working with the Ecoexist team, gathering interviews and footage with farmers as they protected their homes and fields from elephants. A majority of the music was composed by Neil Cartwright, BAFTA nominated composer. Footage includes remarkable sequences of large elephant herds, passing through the villages. The film will be of interest to viewers in Botswana and around the world who are concerned about elephants, human-elephant conflict, and finding ways to support people who live with elephants. “Though other films tend to shine a well-deserved spotlight on elephants, we seek also to illuminate the experiences of people who live close to elephants,” explained Dr. Amanda Stronza, anthropologist and Director for Ecoexist. “We made it to provide a voice from the Okavango Panhandle, highlighting the need to address human-elephant conflict and the great strides Ecoexist and our partners are making to find strategies for long-term coexistence,” said ecologist, long-time Botswana resident, and Ecoexist Director, Dr. Graham McCulloch. “We hope our collective messages will contribute to improved management of the conflict here and elsewhere in Botswana.” Dr. Anna Songhurst, Director for Ecoexist, is the team’s elephant biologist who has studied human-elephant conflict in the region since 2008. “Many people and organizations have been working together with our team to address the needs of local communities and elephant populations in the region,” Songhurst noted. “The film reflects the energy and goodwill of many people, working together to find solutions.” Multi-Emmy Award winning NBS broadcast journalist from Botswana, Leloba Seitshiro, narrated the film as a donation for Ecoexist, and she will attend the event. “I’m incredibly honored to be part of this film, and I can’t wait to share it,” she said. “Pathways to coexistence” showcases the work of Ecoexist, proving conservation challenges can be resolved through simple ideas, preserving the unique beauty of Botswana, its people and its wildlife.” A representative from the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism will give a keynote address before the film and other dignitaries will attend. Directors and Coordinators from the Ecoexist team and several Kgosis from the Eastern Okavango Panhandle will be present to answer questions following the film. Website: Facebook: Ecoexist Twitter: @TheEcoexistProj
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