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

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.


DICE is dedicated to building capacity in countries rich in biodiversity, and to undertaking research necessary to conserve biodiversity and the functioning ecosystems upon which people depend. In support of its mission, DICE has now trained postgraduates from over 75 different countries, and many occupy increasingly influential positions in conservation.

The Institute’s newest MSc in International Wildlife Trade and Conservation provides students with the knowledge to address trade regulation and management at both the national and international levels. The programme provides information on the workings of CITES and how this complements other multilateral environment agreements. The longer running MSc’s in Conservation Biology, and in Conservation and Tourism, are also relevant to the work of national management and scientific authorities, international and national NGOs, consultancy firms and contractors, international agencies and donors.

DICE’s PhD programme in Biodiversity Management sees students such as Inogwabini Bila-Isia undertake multidisciplinary and applied projects on a wide range of topics that seek to conserve biological diversity in tropical countries. DICE’s research students are publishing increasingly important and relevant research in high impact journals.



The University of Kent is one of the UK’s most dynamic universities. The first institution within the county to be granted a university charter, it now has over 16,000 students studying at Canterbury, Medway and Tonbridge and is a major educational, economic and cultural force throughout Kent. Last year, the University was one of only five UK universities shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) Institution of the Year award.

More than 80% of research staff work in departments which contain research of national or international levels of excellence. The University’s commitment to its research activities has been recognised by the shortlisting of one of its academics for Young Researcher of the Year in the 2007 THES Awards.

The University’s Law Clinic was also shortlisted in the Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community category and has recently been awarded a prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education. The official announcement took place at St James’s Palace on Thursday 15 November 2007. The presentations by the Queen take place at Buckingham Palace in February 2008. The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are awarded, within the honours system, for exceptional contributions by institutions in the higher and further education sectors to the wider community.

In the 2007 National Student Survey, the University was ranked not just top in the region for course satisfaction, it was among the top ten nationwide. It also has a strong international presence and, according to the 2007 Sunday Times University Guide, it ‘can claim to be Britain’s only international university’ as a result of recent developments including the University’s expanding Brussels campus and its ‘involvement as one of five partners (and the only non-French one) in the bilingual University of the Transmanche’.

Gary Hughes | alfa
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