Award winner 2008
Location: Brazil

Patrícia Medici

Patrícia Medici dedicates her life to the protection of South America’s lowland tapir. Throughout her work, Patrícia has increased the knowledge on this poorly understood species which she refers to as “gardeners of the forest”. Together with the IPÊ, a Brazilian research institution, she leads a long-term research and conservation program on lowland tapirs. In 2008, Patrícia launched the nation-wide Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative (LTCI) in Pantanal, Brazil and has been expanding her programme to other parts of the country ever since. A programme that has become the staple of tapir conservation in the country.


Fresh out of college, Patrícia started her tapir conservation efforts in 1996. At that time, there was hardly any information available about these animals. Together with a team from the Institute for Ecological Research (IPÊ), she embarked on the challenge of researching and promoting the conservation of tapirs in Brazil. Since then, Patrícia became the chairperson of the IUCN SSC Tapir Specialist Group in 2000. And, by the time she received the Future For Nature Award in 2008, Patrícia had already been working towards tapir conservation for over 12 years. In 2008 she took yet another step. She established the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative (LTCI) in Pantanal, Brazil, where no tapir research had been conducted yet.

“Winning the Future For Nature Award was a critical step towards establishing the LTCI in the Pantanal and strengthening our tapir conservation efforts in Brazil. 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.”
Patrícia Medici

Vision and Approach

Patrícia believes in the keystone value of tapirs. These animals disperse large seeds like no other, fulfilling the indispensable role of replanting forests. Because of this, tapir conservation is vital to ensure biological diversity across entire ecosystems in South America. Yet, tapirs are threatened by poaching, habitat degradation, and road mortality. Patrícia’s approach centres on establishing and expanding tapir conservation programmes across the species range in Brazil. Since the start of the LTCI, her research into tapir movements has resulted in mitigation strategies for tapir road mortality, and in the creation of protected areas. The other key aspect of her work is to educate and involve local communities in tapir conservation. Tapirs have a less flattering reputation in Brazil and Patricia has been working to change attitudes towards the species. Through her work, she always strives to apply all her knowledge directly into preserving the tapirs and restoring their natural habitats.

 Impact of the Future For Nature Award

  • The LTCI became a conservation model in Brazil, in part due to the international recognition of winning the Future For Nature Award.
  • With the contribution of the FFN Award funds, Patrícia launched the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative (LTCI) to the Pantanal region in Brazil
  • This money also helped cover some of the costs of running the LTCI
"Although still relatively young, Patrícia's scientific abilities are very strong. More importantly, however, she is able to bring together diverse people with different interests and objectives and rally them around a common goal. This is extremely important in conservation. This award will help strengthen her position and credibility and lend credence to the goals she is fighting for."
Ms. Annette Lanjouw, International Selection Commitee