Ângelo Rabelo
Serra do Amolar Range, in Pantanal Author: IHP

Ângelo Rabelo

Environmental Police Officer

preserving culture on the frontlines

meet ângelo

Ângelo Rabelo, Brazilian former environmental police officer, director of Instituto Homem Pantaneiro (IHP). The NGO was founded by Mr. Rabelo in 2002 and it has worked with different programs to support the sustainable development of the Pantanal. He has dedicated his life since 1980’ for the protection of culture and wildlife of the Pantanal. First, fighting against the illegal hunting and animal trafficking during the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s. He was shot and escaped from death while he was working. After several clinical operations, he went back to the Pantanal and worked as commander of the Environmental Military Police Force of Mato Grosso do Sul. Nowadays, he faces challenges to improve an economy of nature in this unique part of Earth.

preserving culture on the frontlines
Nominated by: Dereck & Beverly Joubert, MED'22
Class of 2024 Location Brazil
Follow ângelo's work:
Navigating in Paraguay river, in Pantanal
Navigating in Paraguay river, in Pantanal Author: IHP

When I was recruited to work as an environmental police officer in Pantanal, I faced one of the most difficult times in my life. The violence against nature, the killing, and the sight of Pantanal’s waters turning red from the blood of caiman yacares for the sake of money were things I knew I had to fight day and night to stop. What drives me is positive thinking and the determination that actions can make a big difference in a process that is clearly having a major negative impact on Pantanal. Even with the great suffering generated by these negative actions such as hunting and irregular activities that threaten the biome and the people who depend on it, I am a determined and active person working to protect the biome. This work involves understanding the differences within Pantanal and the specific threats that could disrupt its balance. My main motivation is working towards practical results for conservation. I believe in hope and understand that it secures the future. I always strive to take action and lead, but I also believe in dialogue, articulation, and politics. This is how I aim to build a strategy that directly benefits wildlife, communities, and on a larger scale, the country and the world, by ensuring the preservation of Pantanal.

I know, by the experience of living at Pantanal for more than 40 years, that locals have the know-how to protect places. And working with science knowledge, it is possible to make the difference in the world.

- Ângelo Rabelo
Ângelo in the field on duty
Ângelo in the field on duty

Overcoming, resisting, and effectively confronting all opposing forces was a challenging task, especially when fighting against the killing of caimans, as there were powerful opponents driven by profit. I knew that there were entities with no interest in controlling hunting, animal trafficking, and deforestation. However, facing this situation was a priority for me and the group I coordinated. There is no doubt that the most significant aspect of our work is the visible results today, with reduced hunting and animal trafficking compared to the 1980s and 1990s. Yet, the work is not finished, so I must continue hoping and working for further improvements.

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