Regional Coordinators

PEN's Regional Coordinators are volunteers who help to facilitate communication and collaboration among primate educators in their respective regions of the world in Latin AmericaAfrica, and Asia.

North America Region

Alejandra DuarteAlejandra Duarte, Mexico
Alejandra Duarte is a Physical Anthropologist with an M.Sc. in Primate Conservation.  She began her career in primatology by assessing the illegal primate pet trade, exploring its economic impact, the species involved, animal welfare aspects, and the owner´s profile.  Alejandra also served as a field assistant with the Black Howler Monkey Project, which focused on the socio-ecology of primates in the mangrove areas of Mexico.  She developed a research project on the resource use and competition between howler monkeys, spider monkeys, and humans sharing the same mountainous landscape.  By working closely with local communities, Alejandra found that they had a lack of motivation to protect their rainforest.  To address the need for widespread conservation education in the region, she trains and engages undergraduate students at universities and in the field to include well-structured education components in their primate projects.  In 2010, Alejandra was awarded the Laurence Jacobsen Education Development Grant to support her students for a field-training program.

“Exchanging knowledge about primates with local people empowers us with tools to develop conservation initiatives for the benefit of humans and primates in shared landscapes."

South America Region

Patricia Mie Matsuo, Brazil
Patricia Mie Matsuo has more than 15 years of environmental education experience in Brazil.  In 2000, she began working in primate education when she joined the Golden Lion Tamarin Association (GLTA).  During her eight years as GLTA’s Environmental Education Coordinator, she coordinated a teacher-training project for the conservation of the golden lion tamarin.  During her graduate studies, she researched the impact of the teacher-training project, “Rediscovering the Atlantic Forest,” GLTA’s environmental capacity-building program focusing on teachers’ attitudes and behaviors.  Patricia was also a member of the Golden Lion Tamarin Association's Board of Directors and a collaborator in their environmental education strategy actions for two endemic and endangered primates of Brazil, the muriqui and golden-headed lion tamarin.  Listen to Patricia's Voices from the Field interview!

“Education is an essential component of any primate conservation program.  The threats to primate survival have human origins, so community support and involvement are essential for successful implementation of primate conservation strategies.”

Xyomara Carretero-Pinzón, Colombia and Venezuela
Xyomara Carretero-Pinzón is a biologist and a founding member of the Colombian Primatological Association (Asociación Primatológica Colombiana).  She received her master’s degree in Biological Science and her Ph.D. in Geography, Planning, and Environmental Management at the University of Queensland in Australia.  Her research focus was on the development of management tools to improve primate conservation efforts in fragmented landscapes.  Xyomara has 18 years of experience studying primates and working closely with rural and indigenous groups in different parts of the Orinoquian and Amazonian regions of Colombia.  Over the years, she realized the importance of education in order to change local people’s perceptions about primates and their forest in general.  Through her education efforts, she has witnessed changes in the perception of communities working in farms at her study area.  Listen to Xyomara's Voices from the Field interview!

“Only when you understand what you have and how it helps for your own survivorship, can you care and protect primates and their forest habitats.  This is why education is so important to incorporate into any primate research project, especially in areas that are at risk of human encroachment and extractive activities.”

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East Africa Region

Silver Birungi James, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi
Silver Birungi James holds a B.A. in Environmental Management and a postgraduate diploma in Education from the Makerere University in Kampala.  He is the Education Officer with the Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Wildlife Conservation Trust.  His passion for nature has driven him to earn vast experience in implementing many projects aimed at changing attitudes and actions of people in Uganda, especially living close to wild chimpanzee habitats.  His tireless contribution to conservation education earned him the Charles Southwick Conservation Education Commitment Award in 2010 and the Disney Conservation Hero award in 2013.  As a teacher, Silver is known by his students for his simple love of nature and passion for wildlife.  Listen to Silver's Voices from the Field interview!

"I have spent much time thinking about how best education can create change in minds, attitudes, and actions.  I believe that, through the joint efforts of conservation educators throughout the world, we can achieve this goal.  If we only educate one person each day, a number of animals and plants can be saved from extinction."

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Southeast Asia Region

Thirza Loffeld, Sulawesi and Java, Indonesia
Thirza Loffeld discovered her passion for primate conservation during an internship at the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage in Zambia.  She later conducted research for the Jane Goodall Institute in the Netherlands.  Following these experiences, Thirza pursued an M.Sc. in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes University. During her graduate studies, she gained in-situ experience, assessing the effectiveness of guide training for a gorilla habituation program in the Central African Republic.  Thirza has a strong interest in primate education and serves as the Field Education and Advocacy Coordinator with Selamatkan Yaki, a conservation, research, and education program, focusing on protecting the Sulawesi crested black macaque.

“It is my privilege to be part of a network that encourages educators to share their experiences and expertise with the conservation community and that strives to advance the field of primate education.”

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