Kathy West


BS Zoology / Animal Behavior, 1978 University of California, Davis

MS Primate Ecology and Behavior, 1981, University of California, Davis; Field research (Sumatra) on siamang ape (Hylobates syndactylus) ecology, behavior and communication

As a wildlife and conservation photographer and primatologist, I am troubled by the loss of biodiversity worldwide. In 2016 I founded a conservation program, Photography Inspiring Children in Conservation (PICCmadagascar.org). PICC is empowering people in habitat critical communities to support local ecosystem conservation, and inspiring children to become lifelong learners and conservation leaders within their communities by providing them with skills, knowledge and a passion for conservation through the arts of photography, illustration and writing.

Travel for work and pleasure has provided me with incredible opportunities to conduct science and create images in Alaska, British Colombia, the Pacific Northwest, Tanzania, Madagascar, Panama, Ecuadorian Amazon and cloud forests, Suriname, Galapagos Islands, Cambodia, Sumatra, Europe, and many states around the US.

By creating and freely sharing my images of threatened and endangered species, I am dedicated to bringing a greater understanding and appreciation of the natural world to further conservation awareness and solutions, especially in the primate extinction crisis.

I am a member of the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA); International Primatological Society; American Society of Primatologists; and Guild of Natural Science Illustrators.

For details, please see my CV here.

Awards and Recognition

• Recipient of 2019 “Kyes Award for Excellence in Outreach” for significant contributions to primatology outreach, American Society of Primatologists

• Honored Images in 2020 and 2021 Top 250 North American Nature Photography Association; Semifinalist in 2017 and 2020 Nature’s Best Photography International Awards

Unique Set of Experience and Skills

With my education and extensive career as an illustrator, photographer and communications specialist for University of California, Davis, and as a freelance conservation photographer and illustrator, I have created images of a broad range of subjects from mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians to insects, plants and fungi.

chimpanzee portrait I

• Extensive experience photographing a broad range of animal and plant species in North, South and Central America, SE Asia, Tanzania, and Madagascar

Developed a new conservation program, Photography Inspiring Children in Conservation (PICC)

Led an environmental outreach children’s workshop in collaboration with Suriname Forest Fragment Project 2018, using the PICC program (see here for description and photos).

• Developed and managed PICC conservation programs in 2020 and 2021, together with Malagasy staff, working within restrictions due to the worldwide pandemic.

• Developed and led novel and successful education and public outreach communication strategies for University of California, Davis research programs and a national outreach consortium for 13 years

• Over 40 years providing accurate and engaging scientific illustrations for a broad range of research and conservation projects

• Donated photography field services to UC Davis’ One Health project, PREDICT, Phase II, in rural Cambodia

“Kathy has not only captured incredible and compelling imagery, but she has spent the last two years working to empower the children in Malagasy communities to become dedicated conservationists. I have watched these kids learn an exciting new way to ‘capture’ the wildlife around them. Further, she has truly worked with village elders in way […]

Dr. Cortni Borgerson

“Thanks to astonishing progress in digital imagery in recent decades, many people now take excellent photographs, yet Kathy West consistently rises way above that bar. Her work is utterly wonderful, reflecting outstanding  technical expertise, extensive training in biology, and a special knack for capturing details, a talent I suppose must come from some deep love […]

Dr. Harry W. Greene

“Kathy West has an ability to take startlingly beautiful photos of her animal subjects, in ways that fascinate and compel the viewer. For those of us that study the lives of animals, it makes others want to know about what we do.” Karen Bales, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair, College of Letters and Science Department […]

Dr. Karen Bales

“Kathy has been instrumental in providing photographs that illustrate the animal’s behavior when I communicate my science. These essential elements contribute to making the research tangible and have been featured from the Smithsonian to the New York Times coverage of the scientific studies.” Katie Hinde, PhD, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Center for […]

Dr. Katie Hinde