Hi Everyone, I'm Louisa

Intro & Background Info

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From an early age I have been intrigued by the natural world. My love of African wildlife and the continent they live on has shaped the person I am today and in turn the direction my professional career has taken. I have been in international conservation for nineteen years which has been a combination of in situ and ex situ work. I aim to use robust scientific research to create practical management solutions & strategies for governments in order to conserve species. I believe that collaboration is key to achieving this aim, the strength of a committed network cannot be underestimated so I am excited to be a part of this one, especially as I wait in the UK for the time when I can return to Namibia!

In 2017 I set up my own consultancy, LRC Wildlife Conservation so I could work with organisations from many different sectors and backgrounds. Over the last 3 years, I undertook the national leopard census project in Namibia. The project took a multi-disciplinary approach, inside and outside national parks, by combining ecological methodologies and social science to understand the pressures on, and status of, the leopard population across Namibia. At the end of 2019 this project was successfully completed. 

I am now fundraising for Phase 2 which will trial conflict mitigation tools in order to reduce leopard-livestock-farmer-conflict. I'm using the low-cost tools currently on the market and also discover and design new options that can be included in the trials. I always want to work with a variety of people and groups as they each bring their own ideas, experience and skills to the project, this will ensure that the project is as successful as possible and avoids duplication of effort. 

Before the leopard project....

In 2004 I undertook my first research project in the Mara Triangle, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, as part of my BSc, looking at cheetah behaviour in relation to presence of spotted hyaena. My MSc in Conservation Biology is from the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University and Kent. My MSc research was in collaboration with a Darwin Initiative project and Friends of Conservation, assessing wildlife distribution in the Greater Mara Ecosystem, Kenya by focusing on the effects of landscape variables and anthropogenic threats on four key species: elephants, lions, zebras, and wild dogs. This was the first project I encountered which included human-wildlife conflict and has subsequently shaped my career path ever since. 

Following my MSc I moved to Cambridge, UK, where I volunteered with BirdLife International and from there I got my first paid job at UNEP-WCMC in the protected areas programme after which I moved to TRAFFIC Intentional. I really enjoyed working for these organisations, I learnt a lot and gained new skills but the call of Africa was still there!

I decided to undertake a PhD, which I completed in 2014, on the comparative abundance and ranging behaviour of brown hyaena inside and outside protected areas in South Africa. The study identified the factors that affect the abundance and distribution of brown hyaena between areas of high and low human-wildlife conflict using GPS collars, remote camera traps and questionnaires. During my PhD I was also the scientific team leader for the Earthwatch project ‘Scavengers of South Africa’, looking after volunteers and teaching them research skills. Collectively I spent 3 years in the field collecting data which was highly challenging when working alone over large areas. 

Post PhD I joined the Cheetah Conservation Fund, Namibia, as the Ecology Manager for 2 and a half years. I was responsible for coordinating and assisting in all aspects of their ecology and community-based research as well as managing their capacity building training programmes for local communities. As well as supervising interns, volunteers and students.


Louisa Richmond-Coggan

Dean, African Leadership University, School of Wildlife Conservation

I have nineteen years of international experience in the field of conservation both in situ and ex-situ. From an early age, I have been passionate and intrigued by the natural world. My love of African wildlife and the continent they live in has shaped the person I am today and in turn the direction my professional career has taken. From my first visit to Tanzania to my current work in Namibia, I have come to understand the multifaceted relationship between wildlife and people. It cannot be denied that people are the root cause of a species decline but they are also the key to a species survival as well; this is my focus. Every one of my projects has grown my understanding of this relationship. I do this by taking the time to sit and talk to the people who are impacted by wildlife to generate real-world solutions. As a conservation scientist, I believe we should always be asking the key question ‘How can people and wildlife coexist?’ In 2016, I realised that to establish practices which affect real conservation results in time frames that address challenges before they become irretrievable, conservationists need to be more innovative, flexible and collaborative in their approach than we have traditionally been. My solution to this was to become an independent ecological consultant, able to work where and when I was required and, crucially, with all stakeholders and not just the ones my views were aligned with and in 2017 I started LRC Wildlife Conservation. In November 2020 I became the Dean for the School of Wildlife Conservation at the African Leadership University based in Kigali, Rwanda. As Dean, I am responsible for designing and implementing the School’s academic curriculum for undergraduate, MBA, and professional development programmes. Strengthening the faculty team and providing academic leadership for the School’s growing student body. The ALU School of Wildlife Conservation is an initiative of the African Leadership Group established to catalyse innovation and growth in Africa’s conservation sector. This is because we recognise Wildlife Conservation as one of Africa’s great opportunities and competitive advantages. We see the sector’s potential to drive sustainable ecological and economic development on the continent.
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Go to the profile of Thirza Loffeld
over 1 year ago

Hi Louisa, thank you for sharing your journey with us; it's wonderful to read where your conservation career has taken you! Amazing photos also. Your words on how collaboration is key to achieving conservation goals resonated with me. I think this point also comes up regularly in our members' reflections when they post their lessons learned. Feel free to add your lessons learned in one of our channels (perhaps the capacity building channel would be suitable?) and there is a new activity that we will be starting soon, called WildHub Fika, which may provide support while you wait to return to Namibia. Have a nice day! 

Go to the profile of Thirza Loffeld
over 1 year ago

PS I also did an interview with the founder of CCI's Fika group, Lindsey Elliott, please find it here. 

Go to the profile of Louisa Richmond-Coggan
over 1 year ago

Hi Thriza, thank you for the positive feedback on my intro, it really is appreciated! I have signed up to WildHub Fika, I think that it is a great initiative. Listening to Lindsey on the interview I was transported back to my days in Cambridge, we all used to meet weekly in a pub after work. It was a great way to get to know your fellow colleagues, to chat about our work, what we were all doing and possible overlaps and collaborations. When I left Cambridge, it was hard to leave this dynamic group and the buzz of our pub chats. I also really felt outside of the loop especially when you hear way down the line about new initiatives, collaborations and big ideas. It is great therefore that WildHub and Fika have created a fantastic opportunity for people everywhere to be connected so everyone can always be in the loop!

Go to the profile of Thirza Loffeld
over 1 year ago

Yes, I think many of us who are not part of/leave nearby such a hub may miss this supportive colleagial atmosphere. Great that you've joined our other members in signing up for this exciting new activity! As soon as we have gathered sufficient people, we will start - stay tuned!