Meet WCN Scholar Ana Francis Aurich
Growing up in rural Peru left Ana with very few academic opportunities. That soon changed when the Spectacled Bear Conservation Society (SBC) came to her village of Batan Grande, located at the foothills of the Andean mountains. Ana was only 14 at the time, but she got her first taste of working in wildlife conservation when she began volunteering with the SBC. The experience not only strengthened her resolve to pursue wildlife conservation as a career but also showed her that she could make a difference in her community and beyond. Since then, Ana has achieved some impressive accomplishments, including being the first person in her village to complete a degree in biology, doing field work with camera traps to capture the spectacled bear, and rediscovering a rodent species (the Mountain Paca)—thought to be extinct in the region—while executing her thesis project in the National Wildlife Refuge of Laquipampa.
With an MSc in Forestry from the University of British Columbia, Ana will study the impact of human activity on Peru’s seasonal dry forest ecosystem. An area that is as yet unstudied despite the dearth of species that live in the region, including the spectacled bear. Sadly, increasing human land alterations have caused the forests to fragment, leaving very little room for spectacled bears to roam. As a native of this specialized habitat, Ana hopes to engage the local communities and share with them her intimate understanding of why these forests must be saved and preserved, for both people and animals. Her village upbringing also makes her uniquely poised to bring a culture of conservation to the community that can stretch forward through generations, helping revive the forests and the wildlife native to her homeland.