Wednesday 1 July 2020

World’s top tapir expert prepares for unprecedented Amazon mission

by Naira Hofmeister on 24 June 2020 | Translated by Roberto Cataldo
Brazilian conservation biologist Patrícia Medici first won a Whitley Award, the “Green Oscars” for conservation science, in 2008; this year, she’s the recipient of the top tier of the prize, the Whitley Gold Award.
She will use the $75,000 prize to fund the new stage of her studies, in which she plans for the first time to study the lowland tapir in the Amazon.
Medici has already spent two decades studying the species, South America’s largest land mammal, in the Atlantic Forest, the Pantanal wetlands, and the Cerrado grassland.
She hopes to use the next stage of the study, in the Amazon, to expand understanding of the species by seeing how it reacts to deforestation driven by mining, large-scale agriculture, and logging.
Social and travel restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic prevented Brazilian conservationist Patrícia Medici from going to London last month to receive one of the most prestigious awards in the world of conservation science.
The Whitley Gold Award — the top prize given out every year by the Whitley Fund for Nature — is considered such a major honor that it is known as the “Green Oscars” and is handed out by Princess Anne of England, the fund’s patron. Medici, who received her first Whitley Award in 2008, was named the recipient this year for her work to conserved Brazil’s threatened wildlife in general and the lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris) in particular. The awards ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society has now been rescheduled to December, if things are normal by then.
Until then, however, Medici says she hopes the health crisis doesn’t prevent her from resuming her expeditions with the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative (Incab) in the second half of 2020.


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