Fundación ProAves – por la conservación en el país de las aves

Ninfa, Winner of the International Ranger Award

7 April, 2021


With great pride we congratulate Ninfa Carianil Damaso, first female forest ranger of Fundación ProAves for being one of the winners of the important International Park Rangers Award of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA). This prestigious award was developed in collaboration with the International Federation of Rangers, Global Wildlife Conservation and Conservation Allies.

This great environmental recognition, announced today by Julia Miranda, Deputy President of WCPA, highlights the extraordinary work that Ninfa does for the environment and the work of many female fighters who, despite adversity, are on the front line day after day to protect nature and animals.

ProAves is grateful to have Ninfa on the conservation team, as she acts as an example for thousands of women who seek to take care of our country’s wildlife. Therefore, the best way to honor this great recognition is by making visible the leading role that women have in conservation and praising their great work in preserving the most valuable treasure we have on the planet, the environment and its species.

“Ninfa has proven to be an example of resilience and courage. Through her hard work and love of conservation, she has become a role model for many young women. We are proud to be able to empower women in conservation”, says Sara Lara, Director of the Fundación ProAves. She adds that “women are strength, passion and energy, that is why it is very important that we continue to contribute from all areas to the protection of biodiversity and that our voice be heard.”

ProAves is committed to gender empowerment in the protection of biodiversity, and more than 60% of its staff is women.


Since arriving at the Águila Arpía ProAves Reserve in 2012, Ninfa and her husband, José Rufino Mora, have become the protectors of the 2,596 hectares of vast rainforest on the south bank of the Guaviare River. They worked hard to establish strong ties with the community and protect the area.

The reserve, located in the northern buffer area of the Nukak Natural Reserve -one of the last strips of unprotected tropical forest in the Colombian Amazon- is made up of properties bought from settlers eager to deforest the area, but thanks to the efforts of Ninfa and her husband, it was possible to recover the ecosystem that had been degraded.

 Ninfa’s life took an unexpected turn in 2019 when her 10-year-old son, Johan Sebastián, drowned in the Guaviare River in front of the reserve cabin. Heartbroken, Ninfa and her husband buried him in the reserve, where he loved to be. Then, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, her husband Rufino was unable to obtain medication due to the remote location of the reserve, and tragically he died in May 2020.

Despite the unfortunate events, Ninfa has moved on and is an example of improvement. Since then, she undertook the beautiful challenge of being the Foundation’s first female forest ranger, a task that she has carried out with great commitment and professionalism, fulfilling all the responsibilities entrusted to her to protect tropical forests from the constant threats of hunters, loggers and settlers seeking to establish settlements in this area.

Ninfa has shown, with great courage and fervor, to be the protector of the remote and highly threatened rainforest, located in the heart of the Colombian Amazon. She carries out daily surveillance of river and land boundaries (monitoring of bird species), general maintenance of the reserve facilities, works as a community and outreach leader, maintains border roads and a tree nursery for reforestation.

Her example of determination, strength and commitment to protect nature in the face of great adversity has positioned her as an inspiration for the women of Colombia, especially because of her humble origins and the impact that the armed conflict had on her life. Although only in her early 30s, Ninfa, a woman of indigenous descent, is becoming a strong voice for women and a local leader in the community.

Ninfa is very proactive, which is why she has also assisted with research in the reserve and with species monitoring, such as deploying camera traps and conducting bird censuses with the eBird app, in which her 10-year-old son, Darwin, joins her. Together they have motivated children from the local community to get involved with conservation and have even formed a group of young bird watchers in this remote location.

  • Read the full IUCN and WCPA article on the winners of the International Ranger Award here.


Thanks to the support of Permian Global, who has supported conservation processes in the area for almost a decade, and Women For Conservation have been able to train and empower Ninfa in her role as a forest ranger.

We also thank IUCN, WCPA,  International Ranger Federation, Global Wildlife Conservation and Conservation Allies for this extraordinary recognition.