An official website of

Fellows Cohort 13

Working with Under-Represented Communities in Conservation

In partnership with the Warner College’s Diversity and Inclusion program, the CCC continues to support Fellows from demographics historically under-represented in conservation and projects that engage often under-served marginalized communities.  Cohort 13 is made up of 12 Fellows pursuing five conservation projects working with communities in three different countries:

  • In Botswana, addressing human-elephant conflict through adaptive management and collaborative decision-making.
  • In Cameroon, understanding pangolin populations while creating more collaborative approaches for natural resource management in Takamanda National Park.
  • In Colorado, USA, establishing a baseline for how educational messaging and community engagement can produce tangible, long-term conservation support that will directly and indirectly support waterfowl and associated habitats.
  • In Ecuador, restoring watershed health in Pintag while protecting and enriching Mestizo culture and ancestral values of sustainability.
  • In Montana, USA, facilitating a community dialogue about water in the Bitterroot through multimedia “pop-up” exhibits

Elephant Conservation in Maitengwe, Botswana

Dr. Life Mashumba

Senior Lecturer, Tonota College of Education

Dr. Joy Life

Adjunct Professor, New Convent International University


Pije Galamoyo

Treasurer, Tashangana Conservation Trust

Dr. Cini Brown

Colorado State University Professor in the Department of Agricultural Biology

Applying Collaborative Conservation and Adaptive Management Frameworks to Co-Create Sustainable Solutions to Human-Elephant Conflict

Botswana is home of the world’s largest elephant population with over 130’000 elephants living within its boundaries Elephants embody the delicate balance between humans and wildlife that is so necessary for a flourishing world where we live in harmony together.  

Conflict is often concentrated where communities are located alongside wildlife-protected areas and elephants enter the communities to seek resources or to pass through. 

Because of the poachers in Angola, Zimbabwe, and Namibia, the elephants were forced to migrate to Botswana where there is less human contact as Botswana has tight protection. 

Over the last few years, a herd of elephants have been steadily encroaching into the heart of Maitengwe, a village in Botswana on the Zimbabwe border. The villagers are used to living in close proximity to the tusked beasts, who have roamed the surrounding landscape in large numbers for the last five years, so it is not unusual for elephants to venture so close to the people’s homesteads. In the past, although they have caused chaos at the lands, devouring crops and crushing harvests, the jumbos have been content to keep their distance from the village. 

Coexistence with elephants entails both indirect and opportunity costs. The economic cost can be substantial for people who invest in crop farming, guarding and elephant control systems. The time required for farm protection limits the amount of time available for activities such as attending school, and families who are affected severely by crop damage.  Additionally, people feel unsafe during daily activities such as walking to and from school, collecting firewood and accessing shops. This may affect the socio-economic development of Maitengwe. 

The negative impacts of elephants are associated with increasing settlement and farming activities close to protected areas. This increases the likelihood of contact with elephants when they leave the protected area. Elephants tend to move outside protected areas when crops are ripening, attracted by crop sugar content and palatability. Frequent crop damage causes farmers to develop negative attitudes towards the conservation of elephants and to be disinclined to share land with them 

Therefore the coalition with Colorado State University is to: 

  • develop a strong understanding of the reasons for the elephants frequenting the village now when they did not in past decades
  • identify the needs of people and elephants in the region 
  • propose solutions that will benefit elephants and people by providing elephants with the resources needed for their survival and well-being, protecting the safety and livelihoods of local residents, and promoting the prosperity of the region. 
  • Implement solutions that have been vetted by the community in an adaptive management framework, which will entail steps of structured decision-making and learning (Allen et al. 2011). 
  • Tashangana Conservation Trust
  • Dr. George Wittemeyer, IUCN Human-Wildlife Conflict & Coexistence (HWCC) Specialist group and the Elephant Protection Initiative Foundation (EPIF) HEC strategy, the African Elephant Specialist Group (AfESG) Human-Elephant Coexistence Task Force and Conservation Evidence
  • Village of Maitengwe

Towards Collaborative Conservation of the World’s Most Trafficked Mammal: Protecting Pangolins and Building Conservation Capacity in Takamanda National Park (TNP), Cameroon

Jerry Kirensky Mbi

Conservator, Takamanda National Park

The purpose of CCC project is to understand and engage with communities that live in and around TNP regarding their knowledge, perceptions, and valuation of pangolins and conservation and to build the capacity of local community members in citizen science data collection and move towards more collaborative approaches for natural resource management in the South West Region of Cameroon. Through community collaboration and project co-design, this effort will help fill key gaps in understanding regarding pangolin distribution and abundance in the region and most importantly, will build community capacity and further empower local people to have a seat at the decision-making table for conservation in the TNP landscape. 

  • Community members of Obonyi I, II, III and Takamanada (Western Cluster)
  • Community members of Basho I, II and Mbilishie (Eastern Cluster)
  • Community members of Nfakwe, Kekpani, Assam and Takpe (South Eastern Cluster)
  • ASHU Moses ASHU , Cluster Facilitator of Western Cluster
  • TIKU Osca AFU, Cluster Facilitator of Eastern Cluster
  • ENOW Sampson, Cluster Facilitator of South Eastern Cluster
  • Dr. Matthew Luizza, Program Officer, African Elephant Conservation Fund, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Wetlands for Waterfowl and People: Broadening Support for Wetlands Conservation through Collaborative Planning, Colorado

Courtney Massey

Biologist, Ducks Unlimited, Inc

Nicole Stafford

Director of the Environmental Learning Center (ELC), Colorado State University

The Wetlands for Waterfowl and People project aims to address the urgent need for wetlands conservation by engaging with new audiences that have traditionally been missed in conservation efforts. Wetlands are vanishing at a rate three times faster than forests and are the most threatened global ecosystem due to human activities like agriculture, urbanization, and pollution. The project seeks to actively engage with communities to increase awareness and support for wetlands and waterfowl conservation efforts.

The project will use collaborative partnerships to identify innovative conservation approaches that incorporate an understanding of how people in the community of interest engage with wetlands and their conservation. By building awareness of ecosystem services and sharing educational messages, the project aims to facilitate a connection to nature and translate it into support for wetlands conservation. Through consultation, a focus group, and the development and deployment of communication materials, the project will bridge the gap between outreach and conservation impact. The project hopes to establish a baseline for how educational messaging and community engagement can produce tangible, long-term conservation support that will directly and indirectly support waterfowl and associated habitats.

  • Matt Reddy, Regional Biologist at Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
  • Kaylan Kemink, Director of Conservation Planning at Ducks Unlimited, Inc.

Agua es Vida / Water is Life – A collaborative effort towards water conservation, research, and re-imagining in Pintag, Ecuador

Photo for MCNW

Hope Radford

MS Student, Colorado State University

PXL_20220924_162045063 (1)

Rose Parham

MS Student, Colorado State University

Daniel Acosta

An informal leader of Pintag Amaru


Dr. Heidi Hausermann

Associate Professor of Geography at Colorado State University

Agua es vida. Water is life.

Water is the heart of Pintag Amaru, an Indigenous (Kichwa) community organization in Pintag, Ecuador. The community, however, has observed increased contamination in rivers and irrigation channels from a myriad of sources including mining, deforestation, tourism, and agrochemical use. In addition to threatening community-wide health and ecological integrity, contamination undermines Pintag Amaru’s agriculture-based livelihoods and resistance efforts. Pintag Amaru also recognizes water as a sacred element, intimately tied to identity, spirituality, and relationship to landscapes. In collaboration with CSU graduate students Hope Radford (Anthropology) and Rose Parham (Ecology), Pintag Amaru seeks to implement a multifaceted collaborative conservation project that includes: 1) forest regeneration project & adjacent water purification system on Pintag Amaru collective land, 2) ecological research focused on mining impacts, to be used be for community education, dialogue, and broader resistance efforts, and 3) anthropological research exploring conservation values in relation to concepts of development and resistance.

  • Pintag Amaru is an Indigenous community organization based in Pintag, Ecuador
  • Dr. Fernando Ortega, professor of public health at the Universidad de San Francisco (USFQ) in Quito,
  • Kriddie Whitmore, PhD student at the University of North Carolina studying river ecology northeast of Quito.
  • Jackie Gerson, Michigan State University, a watershed biogeochemist
  • Daniel Bryan, the founder of Pintag Amaru’s mother organization Pachaysana
  • Dr. Lynn Kwiatkowski, professor of Anthropology, CSU
  • Dr. Caridad Souza, professor of Ethnic Studies, CSU

What We Talk About When We Talk About Water- facilitating a community dialogue about water in the Bitterroot through interdisciplinary exhibit components

Alex photo

Alex Ocañas

Community Engagement Coordinator, Bitter Root Water Forum

The goal of our initiative is to collaboratively create a multimedia pop-up exhibition to utilize as a ‘facilitative tool’ to promote local discussion, shared understanding, learning, connection to landscape and people, and exploration of creative conservation solutions for water in the Bitterroot Valley.During this Fellowship, our team will create, test, and evaluate various components of the exhibit to ensure their functionality as facilitative tools. By advancing a shared understanding of the water conservation needs facing our community and the need to work together toward solution, this tool will contribute to community capital by better preparing us to rise to the challenges that await in our near future.  

  • CSU Museum and Cultural Heritage Studies
  • Bitter Root Water Forum board members and staff
  • Humanities Montana