2008 Whitley Award winner, Pati Medici was honoured to take part in Brazil’s Olympic torch relay last month on its journey to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games which start in August. Running with “Antonio” the tapir, she raised awareness of the plight of Brazil’s tapirs.

Pati running

Lowland tapirs are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and populations have declined by over 30% in the past 30 years due to habitat loss, hunting and competition with livestock. The species has been exterminated from large portions of its historic range following significant deforestation in the Atlantic forest (~90%) and mass conversion to agricultural land and human settlement in the Pantanal (~40%) and the Cerrado and Caatinga Biomes.

'Antonio' the tapir & Pati Medici with the Olympic torch

‘Antonio’ the tapir & Pati Medici with the Olympic torch

Pati is helping to target conservation action for this unusual animal, having begun her project in the Atlantic Forest (Morro do Diabo State Park) in 1996. Since then, she has extended her work to the Pantanal and Cerrado Biome. Learn more from her TED Talk below, which has  had over 1 million views and has been translated into 26 different languages since November 2015:

Many congratulations to Pati, who is celebrating ‘20 Years of Tapir Conservation Efforts in Brazil’ this year!