Patricia Medici


Patrícia Medici was one of the first winners of the Future For Nature Award in 2008. She won the Award for her outstanding conservation work on the tapir in Brazil. Winning the Award enabled her to take a critical step towards establishing the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative in the Pantanal. In May 2013 Future For Nature asked Patricia to participate in the International Selection Committee for the selection of the new Award winners. Future For Nature is happy with her confirmation.

More about Patricia Medici 

Patrícia Medici is a Brazilian conservation biologist. Her main professional interests are tapir conservation, tropical forest conservation, metapopulation management, landscape ecology and community-based conservation. Patrícia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Forestry Sciences from São Paulo University, a Master’s Degree in Wildlife Ecology, Conservation and Management from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, and a PhD in Biodiversity Management from the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, United Kingdom.

For the past 20 years, Patrícia has been working for Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (Institute for Ecological Research), a Brazilian NGO, of which she was one of the founding members. Since 1996 she has been coordinating the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative in Brazil. In 2000 she was made chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Tapir Specialist Group (TSG), a network of over 100 tapir conservationists from 27 different countries worldwide.

Patrícia has been honoured with three very prestigious conservation awards: the Harry Messel Conservation Leadership Award from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in 2004, the Future For Nature Award from the Future For Nature Foundation in the Netherlands in 2008, and the Whitley Award from the Whitley Fund for Nature in the United Kingdom, also in 2008. More recently, Patrícia received the 2011 Research Prize from the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom.

More about the project 

The lowland tapir is the largest terrestrial mammal of South America. Due to their individualistic lifestyle, low reproduction rate and low population density, lowland tapirs do not achieve high local abundance, which makes them highly susceptible to threats such as habitat destruction, hunting and roadkill. Populations show rapid decline when impacted. The Atlantic Forest Tapir Program is a long-term conservation programme on lowland tapirs in the Atlantic Forests of Brazil which began in 1996. It has included studies in basic ecology, population demography, health, genetics, habitat requirements and effects of habitat fragmentation, as well as promotion of community involvement, environmental education and habitat restoration efforts. One of its main achievements has been working with communities on the establishment of agro-forestry projects to restore tapir habitat (corridors, stepping stones) identified by telemetry, while creating economic alternatives for local families. Results from the Atlantic Forest Tapir Program have been used to design a Regional Action Plan for Tapirs.

In 2008, Patrícia launched the Brazil-wide Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative (LTCI), which aims to establish tapir conservation programmes in other Brazilian biomes where the species occurs. The first was the Pantanal, where no tapir research had ever been conducted. The main goals of the Pantanal Tapir Program are to assess the status and viability of tapir populations in the region and to use these results to substantiate the development of a specific set of conservation recommendations that will benefit tapirs, other wildlife and the Pantanal biome itself. Overall, the LTCI uses tapirs as ambassadors for conservation, catalyzing habitat conservation, environmental education, outreach and awareness, training and capacity building, and scientific tourism initiatives. In the near future, the LTCI will establish similar programmes in the Amazon and Cerrado biomes.

The Future For Nature Award

“Winning the Future For Nature Award in 2008 was critical step towards establishing the LTCI in the Pantanal and strengthening our tapir conservation efforts in Brazil. Our first project, the Atlantic Forest Tapir Program (1996–2008), had been funded by small grants, mostly from zoo conservation funds worldwide, Keeping the programme running required a constant fundraising effort and feedback to donors. Although this experience has enriched our work on many levels and increased the reach and exposure of the programme, it was extremely time consuming. The substantial financial assistance and associated publicity and prestige associated with the Future for Nature Award had a major impact on setting up our tapir conservation efforts in the Pantanal. The financial assistance guaranteed a large proportion of the costs of the programme, while the recognition provided by this Award was instrumental in positioning the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative as a conservation model in Brazil.”