University of Kent conservation student wins €50,000 Golden Ark Award

12/02/2008 Kent, University of
Patrícia Medici, a PhD student in Biodiversity Management at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), has been awarded a 2008 Golden Ark Award by the Golden Ark Foundation in the Netherlands for her work with lowland tapirs in Brazil.

Patrícia will receive her €50,000 award at a ceremony in the Netherlands on 14 March. The Golden Ark Award honours creativity, leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of species conservation, and aims to stimulate award winners to sustain their dedicated work.

Since 1996, Patrícia Medici has led a long-term lowland tapir research and conservation program in the Atlantic Forests of São Paulo State, Brazil. To further promote the conservation of this widespread but imperiled large mammal, Patrícia has recently launched the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative to establish tapir conservation programmes in other key areas of Brazil, including the Pantanal. Patrícia has also chaired the IUCN (World Conservation Union) Tapir Specialist Group for the last eight years. Under her leadership, it has become one of IUCN’s most active Specialist Groups and its membership has grown to over 100 members from 27 countries.

Patrícia Medici said: ‘This award will be a powerful boost for the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative in Brazil. I cannot find words to say how honoured and grateful I am to receive this recognition. We will use this funding to establish an endowment that will help guarantee financial sustainability for our current tapir field projects in the Atlantic Forest and Pantanal, as well as future projects in the Amazon and Cerrado.’

Dr Richard Bodmer, Reader in Conservation Ecology, and Patricia’s PhD supervisor said: ‘Patrícia is an outstanding young conservationist who greatly deserves the 2008 Golden Ark Award for her efforts to conserve the lowland tapir. She is a dedicated PhD student making significant advances in wildlife conservation that are reflected in her receiving this very prestigious award.’

Nigel Leader-Williams, Professor of Biodiversity Management and Director of DICE, said: ‘I am absolutely delighted at this recognition of another of DICE’s outstanding international research students. Patrícia is a shining example of the importance of DICE’s mission to build capacity among nationals from countries rich in biodiversity but poor in resources.’

DICE postgraduate students have won increasingly prestigious awards in conservation, including the Best Talk Award at the Society for Conservation Biology Annual Meeting and at the Student Conference on Conservation Science at Cambridge, as well as the Whitley Award of the Royal Geographic Society, a Rolex Award for Enterprise and a National Geographic Award for Conservation Leadership, among others.

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