Volunteer Spotlight: Matt Brunette

Written By: Florence McCambridge, JGI Canada Volunteer
Category: Our Champions

“The more I learned about animals and the factors leading to their declines and extinction,” says Matt Brunette, a volunteer writer and researcher with JGI Canada, “the more I became interested in conservation. Conservation is a very complex issue, especially with the social and economic factors that govern how projects are funded or lead to changes in the way environments are managed.” Matt’s fascination with wildlife, environmental issues, and primates in particular dates back to childhood, which he spent avidly reading books and watching documentaries on the subject.

Today, Matt is a regular contributor to JGI Canada’s blog site, and his many articles include a post about the impact of the bushmeat trade on chimpanzee populations. “I really enjoy writing and finding ways to communicate information about chimpanzees and conservation that will resonate with people. We have access to so much information these days, I appreciate the challenge of developing content related to the important issues of chimp conservation that people want to read, remember and talk about.”

In his work with JGI Canada, Matt is always searching for ways to tell Canadians how they can contribute to efforts to protect chimpanzees across Africa and support programs that provide sustainable benefits for people. “I also want to keep primate conservation and related issues top of mind for people. While travelling, I’ve seen how disconnected people tend to be when they think about wildlife conservation and climate change issues. Through research, writing, and presentations I hope to address that gap.”

Earlier this year, Matt and his partner spent time in Sierra Leone where they visited the Tacugama Sanctuary, home to 79 rescued chimpanzees. While there, he saw firsthand the remarkable work being done on behalf of chimpanzees, conservation, and people. In addition to caring for rescued chimpanzees, Tacugama leads conservation work in the eastern part of the country near Jaibui, an important area for biodiversity and forest health and home to a large number of wild chimpanzees. Matt’s visit to the sanctuary reinforced his understanding of the importance of JGI Canada initiatives to support community-led conservation in the Congo and help maintain JGI’s Tchimpounga sanctuary.

“I’m tremendously proud to be a part of the JGI team. Dr. Goodall has always been an inspiration and role model for me the same way she has for millions of people across the world. Like Dr. Jane, I believe change for the better is possible.”

Find out more about JGI's Tchimpounga Sanctuary

Q&A with the Director of JGI Congo, Tchimpounga Sanctuary

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At Tchimpounga, there are many examples of mothers, both chimp and human, who act as a mother to these vulnerable orphans rescued from illegal trade…

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Photo Credit: Matt Brunette