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  • Writer's pictureEPI Secretariat

Mezgebe Seyoum, EPI Friend of the Month, May 2024

Our friend of the month for May is Mezgebe Seyoum, the Community Partnership Desk Head at the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA). Mezgebe was one of the EWCA beneficiaries of the human-elephant coexistence training in Tsavo earlier in the year.

Mezgebe at the Training of Trainers Workshop in Sagalla, Tsavo, Kenya, organised by Save The Elephants.


Tell us a little bit about how you grew up, where your passion for conservation was ignited.

I grew up in a rural area and finished my high school education at Adventist Boarding School, where I participated in the school plantation program. After joining university, I developed an interest in social science, but my passion for conservation was ignited when I joined the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority 15 years ago.

In all the years you have been working in Ethiopia’s parks, what has been the highlight of your career?

Some of the highlights over the past 15 years have been providing continuous awareness and training on conservation to local administrators and buffer zone communities, which has been essential in fostering sustainable environmental practices. We have also improved the livelihood security of these communities. This has reduced their over-reliance on natural resources, thereby alleviating pressure on the environment.


Over the years, we have been encouraging our local communities to get involved in the planning and management of protected areas, both inside and outside these zones, ensuring that their needs and insights are considered, leading to more effective conservation efforts. We also address and mitigate human-wildlife conflicts, particularly those involving elephants, while discouraging poaching activities in our efforts to protect biodiversity. Additionally, we have been developing project proposals to solicit funds that can help alleviate the poverty of forest-dependent communities, further supporting Ethiopia’s conservation goals.


Mezgebe facilitating a training session organized by EWCA to empower local communities in Ethiopia.


What is the situation of human elephant coexistence in Ethiopia today, and what are some of the biggest threats facing this coexistence?

Human elephant conflict in Ethiopia has become more frequent and severe over recent decades because of human population growth and the expansion of agricultural and industrial activities, which together have led to increased human encroachment on previously wild and uninhabited areas. The biggest threats facing humans are the current social and economic uncertainties. Competition for the available natural habitats and resources has increased, and the resulting ecological imbalance has negatively influenced human-elephant coexistence. 

Elephants in Ethiopia


Do you remain optimistic that coexistence between people and elephants is possible in Ethiopia?

Human - elephant conflict has become a serious problem in all parts of the country, though it varies from one region or ecosystem to another. However, I am optimistic that people and elephant coexistence will improve because people have an improved understanding of wildlife resources in general and elephants in particular, including from an economic perspective, tourism advantage, as well as their ecological significance.  


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