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Documenting Conservation in Panama.

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About Matt's Project:

This past October I made my first visit to the Azuero Peninsula of Panama to work with the Azuero Earth Project to document spider monkey conservation. Because of abundant cattle ranching in the region, the majority of primary forest in the Azuero has been wiped out, and only small islands of preserved habitat remain.The Azuero Spider Monkey is now listed as critically endangered, and it is estimated that the total population is less than 100. Additionally, very little research has focused on this sub species and as a result, there existed almost no quality documentation of them in the wild. While working there in October, I spent two weeks accompanying a primate research team trekking through the forest, climbing waterfalls, and photographing monkey families. It was an exciting and fascinating project that I hope can shed much needed light on a little known endangered species. 

I am returning to Azuero next month and will be expanding my work to focus on the Pablo Barrios Refuge, a relatively new protected area on the Pacific Coast. The PB Refuge extends 20 km along the coast of the Azuero Peninsula and protects a wide swath of marine and mangrove habitat that were in danger of being impacted by commercial fishing and cattle ranching. Much of the surrounding peninsula has been destroyed by cattle ranching, and the PB Refuge exists as an island of critically important habitat amongst a sea of grazing fields.

Perhaps most interesting, is that while the Pablo Barrios Refuge is one of the most biodiverse and largest protected areas in the region, it has never been professionally documented and virtually no information has been published on it beyond an occasional academic or conservation report. My goal while working with the Azuero Earth Project will be to explore the refuge and create a body of photo and video work to highlight the biodiversity (with a focus on endemic and new species), conservation efforts, and overall importance of the refuge.

In today’s world, words like conservation, endangered, research, and data are everywhere. While much of this information, especially in terms of conservation and climate change, is of great importance, it is often difficult to relate to numbers and statistics, and the messages can get lost amongst the noise of everyday life. I believe that photography offers a solution to this problem. People can internalize and relate to a face, an animal, or a stunning landscape a lot better than a statistic. The Azuero Earth project is accomplishing some amazing feats in terms of rainforest rehabilitation, conservation, and climate change research. I hope that by using photography and visual storytelling, I will be able to document and spread their important message to a wide audience.

See more of Matt's work at 

Every year, our photographers and videographers donate hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of their time to document the work of grassroots initiatives that are making a real change in this world where it is most needed. By capturing, honouring and witnessing humanity at its best, we are not only inspiring many, but we are forging new narratives of what is and what is possible. 

You can help by supporting our photographers and videographers (See the side bar to the right to see fundraisers for our most recent recruits).

Each of our official photographers/videographers is assigned a GroupRev fundraising page by PWB upon acceptance. These pages are a privilege we offer that are intended to make our programs accessible to all and enable our volunteer photographers/videographers to raise their program fees and subsidize or cover these necessary project-related expenses:

  • Airfare
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The following expenses are the sole responsibility of the photographer/videographer:

  • Privately arranged travel / Equipment & Equipment Insurance / Software / Extra Baggage Fees / Donation perks / Clothing / Postage/Postcard / Prints / Etc.

Photographers Without Borders® (PWB) envisions a world where we all put ourselves in each others' shoes and work together. Our mission is to inform and inspire positive change by visually communicating the ways that grassroots initiatives are addressing problems in their communities. PWB is registered as a charity in the United States with 501(c)(3) status and is registered as a not-for-profit organization in Canada. All donations are calculated in US Dollars and are tax-deductible for Americans and Canadians with US income.

PWB is not responsible for any donations made outside of these pages.

Any overage amounts raised on GroupRev will be donated with the photographers direction, 100% to the Organization, 100% to PWB or split 50/50, between the photographer's/videographer's assigned cause and PWB, which is also a volunteer-run organization.


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All donations are calculated in US Dollars and are tax-deductible for Americans and Canadians with US income.


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