Kayna Prescott

Specialist Team

Kayna Prescott

Kayna Prescott

Specialist Team

I am a clinical animal behaviourist with a research background and have worked on a variety of research projects across the world with a focus on human-wildlife conflict and disease.  During my Animal Behaviour and Wildlife Biology degree I travelled to Mongolia to study the behaviour of the Przewalski horses living wild after a successful reintroduction programme. This time spent immersed in the study of the ethology of the horse inspired and influenced my work with domestic horses. After university, I decided that I wanted to remain in the world of conservation research, and started by working with African Wild Dogs. It was this experience in Africa that highlighted the importance of understanding the people and communities that are involved in order to conserve species. Since returning to the UK I have developed my own Horse Behaviour Consultancy business, working with horses and their owners to resolve horse behaviour concerns, and am an Equine Sports Massage Therapist. I currently enjoy working as the Lead Equine Behaviour for The Donkey Sanctuary in Devon.

A Chat with Kayna 

Tell us a little bit about you and your journey into behaviour change?

I have had the opportunity to work on several different research projects across the world, with a focus on human wildlife conflict and disease. When I got my first job in conservation I set off to Africa with dreams of making a difference to an endangered species, African Wild Dogs. What became apparent very quickly was that in order to make a difference for the Wild Dogs I had to work with the people who were connected with them, all from many different walks of life with different ideas and motivations.  It really made me consider how important the human element of conservation was. As my life evolved and I returned to the UK I began to build my own business as a horse behaviourist. I have again found myself involved in supporting and understanding the people within the horse human relationship in order to help them achieve the changes they are seeking for the wellbeing of their horse.

Why does the science of behaviour change matter?

Us humans are part of the big complicated web of our natural world. When considering a conservation or welfare issue having a better understanding of the people that are involved; from the communities directly affected to the scientists choosing what to study and even the people who donate money to funds can guide more effective interventions to create real change.

What is the most inspiring behaviour change intervention you have come across and why?

One of the most inspiring projects that I have encountered is Communities Health Africa Trust, a small charity that works to provide health education, services and information to remote and poorly served communities in rural Kenya. By becoming an organisation with familiar faces that communities can trust they have been able to promote and encourage family planning and health care to communities in a culture which are averse to contraception. By engaging the women and men of the communities they have reduced teenage pregnancies in the area and supported education around TB, HIV and Covid prevention. A truly life changing organisation whose work supports communities and contributes to conservation efforts.

What’s your vision for behaviour change for the next five years?

Over the next few years it would be brilliant to see human behaviour change become part of the process of planning projects in conservation and welfare, encouraging organisations to look at the big picture and consider all the human elements of the challenge they are facing.

Why do you like working with HBCL?

I love working as part of the team, they are so friendly and driven, with such a professional attitude. The work is fascinating and the topics are varied, always providing challenges and a chance to learn more.

Top tip for individuals or organisations getting started with behaviour change?

Take a chance and ask some questions about human behaviour change, consider how people are impacted by your organisation and what changes you would like to see.

The HBCL team are an engaging and supportive team and working with them gives me a real opportunity to use my experience and skills to make a real, tangible difference for a variety of causes. I am surrounded by highly motivated, professional and skilled people who provide opportunities to learn and challenge my skills. I am loving being part of the team and hope it can continue. 

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