Lara Heidel’s childhood home was in a small mountain town in Patagonia, where people and wildlife were in frequent contact. She always knew that she wanted to do something with wildlife, and while receiving her Licentiate at Buenos Aires University in Argentina, she decided to work in conservation.
Lara’s previous area of study focused on Andean condors, monitoring both the birds and the territory they occupied and establishing a monitoring protocol for the birds. She then trained five park rangers in the methods she had created, and the data the rangers gather is currently being used to study the impact of the large amount of oil and natural gas extraction on the Andean condor population. She has also worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society, and assisted in closing 500 abandoned oil trails and roads, reducing overall poaching in those areas.
Lara has successfully helped to co-found a local conservation NGO, Conservación Patagonia, which studies an urban natural reserve and provides workshops on environmental education to children. Choosing to stay in her beloved Patagonia, Lara is working on her PhD at Comahue National University, receiving her doctorate in biology. She is studying the effect of climate change and human activities on both guanacos and the Andean cat in northern Patagonia and hopes to put this research into practical work with the people and animals of the region. Lara’s hard work has already proved that she is entirely committed to Patagonia.