2012 International Young Conservationist
The 2012 IRF – IUCN/WCPA International Young Conservationist of the Year is twenty-seven year old Elisângela Sales Dos Santos from Brazil.
Until 2005, there were no recognised trained park rangers in the Brazilian Amazon. Since that time, Elisângela dedicated herself to the training and promotion of rangers in the Brazilian Amazon states. She has trained over 370 people, who today serve as environmental agents and rangers, benefitting local communities and conservation efforts in the Amazon region.
This work has not been easy. Several days sailing the Amazon and hundreds of miles of dirt road separate Elisângela from the communities she works with. At one time, leading an environmental patrol, her group was threatened by armed poachers. Another time, she saved a drowning woman.
Elisângela’s work epitomises the goal of the International Ranger Federation to train rangers and build for the future. She has set up a database to track the careers of her graduates. Her work in the Amapa region of Brazil, near the mouth of the Amazon River, has also prompted the federal government to officially recognise the work of rangers in Brazil, and led to her assisting the State Secretary of the Environment in wording new laws which meet the needs of park rangers and protected areas.
Elisangela continues to coordinate the training programs of state and indigenous rangers in Brazil. Through project ‘Rainbow’, she encourages the children of local communities to walk the trails and appreciate the values of the natural environment. Elisângela’s achievements so far promise much for the work of rangers in Brazil and protected areas around the world.