Giant armadillo. Credits Kevin Schafer
Award winner 2022
Location: Brazil

Gabriel Massocato

Gabriel Massocato is a Brazilian biologist who dedicated himself to protect a species that was unknowingly slipping away into oblivion: the giant armadillo. He is fighting fires and training others to create a safe natural environment and prevent these elusive creatures from going extinct.


Gabriel Massocato has made a lifelong commitment to saving the giant armadillo in Brazil. Giant armadillos are relatively unknown, but appear to play an important part as ecosystem engineers as their burrows provide home to many species. Unfortunately, this remarkable species is threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation of nature. Gabriel has always been passionate about wildlife conservation and for this reason started volunteering for the Giant Armadillo Project. Over time he slowly worked his way up to his current position as project coordinator in the Pantanal and has made a substantial impact along the way. Gabriel helped conduct long term research to identify the giant armadillo’s basic biological and ecological needs and trained over 80 aspiring nature conservationists. He helped create the giant armadillo National Action Plan and set up a community fire brigade to protect 1500 km2 in the Pantanal (the world’s largest tropical wetland area). The Giant Armadillo project has grown from a single location to a multi-site programme and Gabriel co-founded the organisation Wild Animal Conservation Institute (ICAS) to provide extra support.

Vision and approach

If nothing is done, the giant armadillo could disappear from key natural areas in Brazil. Gabriel believes the giant armadillo can be an ambassador for biodiversity and can bring people together for conservation. Through research, awareness raising and working together with local communities, Gabriel aims to find innovative solutions for the conservation of this curious creature.

Impact of the Future For Nature Award

With the FFN Award prize money Gabriel will:

  • Launch a new initiative and create Giant Armadillo Conservation Units, which will help prevent the current imminent extinction of giant armadillos in the Cerrado of Mato Grosso do Su (Brazil).
  • Set up field expeditions to study and monitor giant armadillos and their habitat.


"Gabriel Favero Massocato is not only a bright researcher, but he made an impressive commitment: made a pact with giant armadillos to dedicate his life for their protection. I appreciate such dedication and strong commitment."
Masha Vorontsova, member of the International Selection Committee