I’m Kaggie and I’m a conservation scientist. I’m a PhD candidate at the Yale School of the Environment working in the Schmitz lab and with the Dove lab. I’m also a conservation associate with Round River Conservation Studies. My current work examines the human-wildlife interface in social-ecological landscapes. I bridge ecological and social science theories in the hopes to advance our ability to do conservation science. I am particularly interested in the practices of people, animals, and domestic species.

Here to learn more about my dissertation? Check out my ArcStory Map I developed! Makgadikgadi: A human-wildlife landscape

About Me

I’ve worked across a number of different landscapes, including but not limited to: small mammal occurrence along a habitat and elevation gradient on a geographically-isolated mountain; feeding ecology and energetics of large carnivores, including cheetah; and community-based monitoring of herbivore communities across the the Okavango Delta.


  • B.A., Colby College, 2010
  • M.A., Ecology & Environmental Biology, Columbia University, 2015
  • M.Phil., School of the Environment, Yale University, 2020
  • Ph.D Candidate, Yale School of the Environment
  • Current Research

    I work at the intersection of social and ecological dimensions in conservation. My research interests cover three overlapping themes, all of which are present in my dissertation. These are:
  • Theoretical Ecology and Social Science
  • Applied Social-Ecological Systems
  • Human-Wildlife Interactions

  • Theoretical Ecology and Social Science

    While I am driven and fueled by field-based research and collaboration across multiple stakeholders, I also have a strong interest in ecological and social theory, particularly how we can use theoretical ecological and social science and individual-based modeling to help bridge the gap between theoretical and applied science.

    Applied Social-Ecological Systems

    Broadly, I am interested in social-ecological systems. Using ecological and anthropological theories and expand them to examine social-ecological landscapes; thus my work spans across qualitative and quantitative disciplines and methodologies. I am focused on the multi-species and multi-predator interactions and space use in a human-dominated (and livestock-dominated) landscape.

    Human-Wildlife Interactions

    Inclusively-driven conservation is at the center for my work. In particular, I am interested in how to develop conservation projects which are scientifically rigorous and fit the needs and desires of local communities. Using this approach, I am interested in human-wildlife interactions, which include conflicts.

    My Dissertation

    The research for my dissertation aims to understand the interplay between wildlife, cattle, and humans and map its resulting coexistence landscape in Central Sub-district of Boteti West between Makgadikgadi Pans National Park (MPNP) and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), Botswana. The area is predicted to be the highest priority corridor for lions in all of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Area, as well as one of the highest human-wildlife conflict areas in the country. However, there has never been a wildlife survey to confirm the use of this area as a corridor or determine how, when, or where wildlife move through this human-dominated landscape. Specifically, I am interested in the practices of people, of wildlife, and of livestock.

    I examine the landscape using three methodologies:

    1. Habitat suitability and wildlife occurrence using a combination of camera trap surveys and satellite imagery;
    2. Human perceptions of wildlife using household surveys and participatory mapping to understand human land use patterns;
    3. Cattle movement and land use through GPS units.

    This information collectively portrays an inclusive, socio-ecological system that can provide nuanced understanding of how to achieve human-cattle-wildlife coexistence while incorporating participation from local communities in CT8. This work is in partnership and collaboration with the tourism organization Natural Selection, the conservation NGO Round River Conservation Studies, and the University of Botswana’s Okavango Research Institute.

    You can check out more of my work through our ArcStory Maps project entitled Makgadikgadi: A human-wildlife landscape


    Past Research

    I have been so fortunate to work in many places.

    Upon completion of my undergraduate degree in Maine, I spent three years in South Africa working on a private game reserve, conducting large carnivore research as well as managing a small mammal satellite research camp on a geographically-isolated mountain range. When I left in 2015 I had gone from intern to the project manager.

    I received a MA in Conservation Biology at Columbia University in 2015 with a thesis focused on anthropogenic features that influence elephant movement. During that time I also developed my spatial analysis skills and love for Geographic Information Systems and remote sensing. I was also a graduate student researcher for Professor Don Melnick conducting preliminary analysis of forest loss using remote sensing and GIS for the Rainforest Standard, a carbon credit program, to determine appropriate protected areas for forest loss evaluation.

    Since graduating from Columbia University, I have been affiliated with Round River Conservation Studies’s work in Botswana. From 2015-2018 I managed and led the RRCS US-student abroad program and the development of community-based wildlife monitoring project. This work included herbivore and bird monitoring, community escort guide training and assisting with the Northern Botswana Ecological Assessment and Decision Support Tool. I simultaneously ran the research program while also working with 5 – 9 American undergraduates as part of their abroad program with RRCS. We lived in tents in the field for three months at a time while working with community members, teaching five college-level courses, conducting research and cooking over an open fire.

    Since 2018, I’ve been responsible for the design and implementation of research and conservation efforts of RRCS in the Makgadikgadi region of Botswana. I maintain partnerships with the University of Botswana’s Okavango Research Institute and Department of Wildlife and National Parks, assist with grant applications, while also being the main project coordinator on the ground. I have continued partnering with RRCS throughout my PhD and much of my work and my motivation comes from the experiences and knowledge I gained in Botswana.


    Maun, Botswana, August 2022: “Human-Predator Coexistence”. Research Talk Series, Public Outreach Program Kwando Safaris and The University of Botswana.

    Yale University. New Haven, CT, November 2021: “The Human-Cattle-Wildlife Landscape: Insights from Preliminary Findings in Makgadikgadi”, Confluence Series.

    Yale University, New Haven CT, April 2019: “Humans and the Environment: Exploring Human-Wildlife Conflict through social and ecological patterns”, Yale Forestry and Environmental Studies Research Day Conference.

    Maun, Botswana, April 2018: “Community-based Wildlife Monitoring from 2013-2015”. Research Talk Series, Public Outreach Program Kwando Safaris and The University of Botswana.

    Maun, Botswana, Fall 2017: “Community-based Wildlife Monitoring from 2013-2015” . Proceedings of the Botswana Symposium on Wetlands and Wildlife Conference.

    Department of Wildlife and National Parks and the University of Botswana, May 2016: “Community-based wildlife monitoring in selected concessions of Chobe and the Okavango Delta, 2013-2015.”

    Montpellier, France, August 2015: “African elephant space use on Karongwe Private Game Reserve, South Africa: A call for a greater understanding of anthropogenic effects on wildlife”. International Congress for Conservation Biology-European Congress for Conservation Biology Conference.

    San Diego, CA, June 2015: “Roads and African Elephants in a Small South African Reserve: Understanding the Impacts of Roads on Space Use of Wildlife”. Association for Environmental Studies and Science: Confronting Frontiers, Borders, and Boundaries.

    Columbia University, NY, April 2014: Vehicle noise disturbance on carnivores and large herbivores in Karongwe Private Game Reserve”, Earth Institute Student Research Showcase.


    (Accepted) Burak, M.*; Ferraro, K. *; Orrick, K. *; Sommer, N.; Ellis Soto, D.; Schmitz, O.. “Context matters when rewilding for climate change”. People and Nature. Pre-print here *indicates first-author.

    Gao, Y., Wang, Y., Lee, A.T.L., Liu, Y., Luo, Y., Orrick, K., Alexander, J.S., Sangpo, J.T., Clark, S.G. 2023. “Contextualizing sociodemographic differences in Tibetan attitudes toward large carnivores”. Conservation Science and Practice. Link here

    Orrick, K., Dove. M., Schmitz, O. “Human-nature relationships: An introduction to social-ecological practice theory for human-wildlife interactions”. Ambio. 2023 Oct 14. doi: 10.1007/s13280-023-01945-x. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37837503. Link here

    Zhou, W. Orrick, K. and Lim, A. and Dove, M.. 2021. “Reframing Conservation and Development Perspectives on Bushmeat.” Environmental Research Letters. Link here

    Orrick, K. “Range Size and Drivers of African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) Space Use on Karongwe Private Game Reserve, South Africa.” African Journal of Ecology 56, no. 3 (September 2018): 572–81. Link here

    (In review) Feldmeier, D.E., Schmitz, O.J., Carter, N.H., Masunga, G.S., Orrick, K. “Perception vs reality: A socio-ecological analysis of human-carnivore conflict in Botswana”. Biological Conservation.

    (in review) Orrick, K., Sommer, N., Rowland, F., Ferraro, K. “Predator–prey interactions across hunting mode, spatial domain size, and habitat complexities”. Ecology.

    (In review) Kanoi, L., Burow, P., Gao, Y., Lim, A., Orrick, K., Singer, E., Dove, M. “Re-constructing Restoration: A Critical Review of the Practice, Politics, and Process of Restoration in Diverse Ecologies”. Environment and Society: Advances in Research.

    (In review) Orrick, K., Ferraro, K., Sommer, N. “Individuals in focus: Individuals as the ecological and ethical center of human-wildlife”. Biological Conservation.


    Orrick, K., Heinemeyer, K., Masunga, G.S., Triska, M. 2021. Community-based Wildlife Monitoring in Selected Concessions of the Okavango Delta, 2013 - 2019.

    Heinemeyer, K., Masunga, G.S. Orrick, K., Smith, J., Sinvula, M., Dain-Owens, S. (2016). Community-based wildlife monitoring in selected concessions of Chobe and the Okavango Delta, 2013-2015.

    Colby Environmental Assessment Team, Colby College and Problems in Environmental Science course (Biology 493), Colby College. (2009). “A Watershed Analysis of Salmon Lake and McGrath Pond: Implications for Water Quality And Land Use Management”. Colby College Watershed Study: Salmon Lake and McGrath Pond (2009, 1993). 1. Link here


    I am passionate about designing inclusive and diverse teaching styles to engage and center students needs. As a hands-on learner myself, I develop mixed method approaches to learning so that students can experience not only the theory but the practical skills necessary for ecology and conservation. * indicates a undergraduate course as opposed to a graduate course.

    Teaching Fellow / Reading Assistant

  • Conservation Science and Landscape Planning , Yale University, 2023
  • Methods and Research in Molecular Anthropology, Yale University, 2021
  • Natural Science Research Methods, Yale University, 2019
  • Building a Conservation Toolkit: From Project Design to Evaluation, Yale University, 2019
  • Graduate Seminar in Conservation Biology, Columbia University, 2015
  • Introduction to Environmental Biology*, Columbia University, 2014
  • Undergraduate Instructor

    While in the Okavango Delta of Botswana, I taught students on the Round River Conservation Studies abroad program. I covered five college-level courses which were accredited by the University of Utah State. Each semester from September 2015 – April 2018 I taught 5-8 students while simultaneously running a large-scale conservation project (see ‘Past Research’ to learn more). I taught:

  • Field Methodology *
  • Natural History *
  • Applied Conservation Biology *
  • Humans and the Environment *
  • Community-Based Natural Resource Management *

  • Invited Speaker

  • Local and Indigenous Community Inclusion in Conservation, Yale University, 2022
  • Impacts of Colonialism on Conservation in Botswana Today, Branson High School, 2021
  • Social Network Analysis in Conservation, Yale University, 2019 / 2020 / 2021
  • Parachute Science in Conservation, Yale University, 2020
  • Community-based Conservation in Conservation Biology *, Portland State University, 2016
  • Community-based Conservation in Conservation Biology *, Colby College, 2016
  • Lion-ele