Leandro Silveira and his wife, Anah Tereza de Almeida Jacomo, created and currently run the organization Pro-carnivoros. The mission of Pro-carnivoros is to promote the conservation of neotropical carnivores and their habitats, which they achieve through a wide variety of scientific research and community outreach efforts.
"I became interested in wildlife while at home seeing my father, who is a vet, working," says Leandro. "Then, when I was fourteen, I saw a television documentary on the first jaguar study in the wild. I said to myself that one day I would do that. Four years later I was in New York City talking to a researcher from that documentary. He gave me the clues I needed to get started, and today I do what I always wanted to."
Leandro and Anah met in school, and their educational paths mirror one another: both have degrees in Biology from Catholic University of Goiás, and Master's degrees in ecology from Federal University of Goiás. Both are currently also PhD candidates in animal biology at the University of Brasilia.
EDUCATION: Learn more about educational degrees for conservation work.
In college, Leandro and Anah's mutual interests resulted in long conversations, joint travel and fieldwork, and eventually marriage. "We appreciate the same things in nature," says Leandro. "Being married to a fellow conservationist means you don't have to hear from them that you must be crazy to want to live in the bush. To be working together full time in the bush with your spouse means that your ties are really true."
They find the biggest challenge in their job is convincing local communities the importance of carnivore conservation. "New conservationists need to be prepared to work tightly with the communities in their study area, and listen to what the locals have to say. Community members need to get involved with your work, heart and mind – when they understand what you do, they will respect you, and change harmful attitudes toward wildlife," advises Leandro. "You know your goals are really achieved when people change their attitudes whether you are present or not."
"Nothing beats hearing the farmers we've been working with – who once hated us for not sharing their opinions that carnivores should be eliminated – but now speak proudly about finding wildlife on their property."
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