Story | 21 Jul, 2022

Rangers from Nicaragua and Mexico among global award winners

At the IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress, twelve rangers and ranger teams from around the world received an International Ranger Award today for their extraordinary commitment to protecting nature and helping local communities.

Kigali, Rwanda, 20 July 2022 (IUCN)Winners of the second International Ranger Awards, presented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), were announced today in a ceremony at the IUCN African Protected Areas Congress in Kigali, Rwanda. In total, seven individual rangers and three ranger teams from ten countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Australasia were recognized for going beyond the call of duty to protect the earth’s wild places and wildlife, and to support local communities. Two winners received special awards for rangers working in areas where tigers are present.

Latin-American Winners of the second International Ranger Award include Mr. Hector Luis Espinoza Acevedo from the Paso del Istmo Wildlife Corridor, La Flor Wildlife Refuge, in Nicaragua; and Mr. Felipe Otoniel León Angel from the National Park “Sierra de San Pedro Mártir” in Mexico.

The International Ranger Awards were established with the support of the International Ranger Federation, Conservation Allies, Re:wild and the Global Tiger Initiative.

The world’s rangers are the unsung heroes and heroines of conservation.” said Dr Madhu Rao, Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas.We rely on their perseverance and dedication to maintain a healthy planet for wildlife and for people. The work of these women and men work is skilled and diverse: they are protectors, educators, community facilitators and wildlife monitors, working in protected areas, private reserves, Indigenous territories and community conservancies. WCPA is delighted to be a partner recognising these new awards which recognise their vital work.

Alongside their extraordinary stories of courage and commitment, what is remarkable about this year’s winners is their diversity,” said Chris Galliers, President of the International Ranger Federation. “They include women, men and young people and a very high proportion of them are members of the local communities where they work. This diversity is what the International Ranger Federation is striving for in the sector, as it is the key to tackling the complex challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.”

Each winner or winning team receives US$10,000 to support the protected and conserved areas where they work, and a custom uniform patch to signify their achievement.


Rehema Kahurananga, IUCN Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa,,

Matthias Fiechter, IUCN Global Communications,


Editor’s notes:

The winners of the 2022 IUCN-WCPA International Ranger Awards are:

  • Orang National Park and Tiger Reserve Ranger Team (Orang National Park and Tiger Reserve, India)
  • Masungi-Bayog Ranger Team (Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape, Philippines)
  • Tiger Protection & Conservation Unit (Kerinci Seblat National Park, Indonesia)
  • Jorge Banegas Franco (Parque Nacional y Área Natural de Manejo Integrado Pantanal de Otuquis, Bolivia)
  • Hector Luis Espinoza Acevedo (Paso del Istmo Wildlife Corridor, La Flor Wildlife Refuge, Nicaragua)
  • Felipe Otoniel León Angel  (Parque Nacional Sierra de San Pedro Mártir, Mexico)
  • Ben ‘Yuddiy’ Brown (Pila Nature Reserve, Australia)
  • Anti-Poaching Tracking Specialists K9 Unit (Savé Valley Conservancy, Zimbabwe)
  • Ali Hassan Ali (Bura East Community Conservancy, Kenya)
  • Yyondji Community Eco-guards (Yyondji Community Bonobo Reserve, Democratic Republic of Congo)
  • Popote Ole Sapulai (Kimana Sanctuary, Kenya)
  • Nyaradzo Auxillia Hoto (Wildlife Management Areas of the Lower Zambezi, Zimbabwe)

A further nine rangers and teams have been recognized with special commendations.


Citations from the International Ranger Awards

Hector Luis Espinoza Acevedo (Paso del Istmo Wildlife Corridor, La Flor Wildlife Refuge, Nicaragua):

Hector Espinosa is an Indigenous ranger who has for ten years dedicated himself to conserving the Critically Endangered yellow-naped amazon parrot in La Flor Wildlife Refuge, becoming an acknowledged expert in parrot surveys, monitoring, and husbandry. Despite the impacts on his family of Hurricane Nate in 2017, his commitment to restoring nest sites were critical to the recovery of the parrot population. As a result of his work and that of his team, the parrot population has stabilised, their forest habitat is recovering, and Hector has become an inspiration for conservation efforts across the wider landscape.

Felipe Otoniel León Angel  (Parque Nacional Sierra de San Pedro Mártir, Mexico):

Despite difficult and deteriorating working conditions, Felipe Otoniel León Angel has persevered in his dedication to lead, equip and train his ranger team to fight dangerous forest fires in the remote and fragile pine forests of Baja California. His determined efforts on behalf of his team have secured equipment and medical support essential for their effectiveness and wellbeing. As a committed communicator, educator and photographer, he has inspired adults and young people from local communities to support and participate in protection of the National Park.


About IUCN

IUCN is a membership Union composed of both government and civil society organisations. It harnesses the experience, resources and reach of its more than 1,400 Member organisations and the input of more than 15,000 experts. This diversity and vast expertise makes IUCN the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it. Learn more at:

About the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA)

WCPA is one of IUCN’s seven Commissions. It is a premier network of 2500 experts from 140 countries that mobilizes action in science, conservation, policy, and engagement to support well managed and connected parks and other protected areas. Learn more at:


About Re:wild
Re:wild is a force multiplier that brings together Indigenous peoples, local communities, influential leaders, nongovernmental organizations, governments, companies and the public to protect and rewild at the scale and speed we need. Our vital work has protected and conserved more than 180 million acres benefitting more than 16,000 species in the world’s most irreplaceable places for biodiversity.


About International Ranger Federation

The International Ranger Federation (IRF) is a volunteer-based non-profit organisation, established to promote the vital role Rangers play in the conservation of the world’s natural and cultural treasures. Learn more at:


About Conservation Allies

Conservation Allies identifies the most dedicated and efficient local non-profits with a proven track record of major impact on biodiversity conservation around the world. They then partner with those entities to provide technical assistance and help them raise funds to support their work. Learn more at: