At only 23, Mandy Hutter has traveled the Amazon River, slept in hammocks in the jungle and lived on a boat in Peru.
As a graduate anthropologist from the University of Waterloo, Hutter's interests lie in biodiversity research, environmental education and primatology.
"I spent last summer outside Iquitos, the ecological capital of the world, in Peru. It is the largest city in the world that is only accessible by boat or plane, there are no roads into it." she says. "We were trying to establish a community-based environmental program and I was helping to gather scientific data."
Hutter also worked with a group known as Operation Wallacea on conservation oriented research. The group lived on self-sufficient boats approximately four days down the Amazon River. "The area was completely jungle and just too dangerous to stay on land," she explains, "so we lived on the boats. Also, we did not want to disturb the area's vegetation or wildlife as we were collecting research data in those specific areas."
While rice was the staple food, the group also relied heavily on doing their own net fishing for protein source. "There are many endangered species there," she adds. "Caimans, of the alligator family, for instance, are being hunted to extinction for their skin. Also, the huge influx of tourism is destroying the natural habitat of many of the species."
The Peru Wildlife Conservation Authority is trying to establish community-based wildlife and plant life educational conservation programs.
Hutter has only been back in this area for a month and is currently a volunteer at the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre. "I'm considered as very young in the field of anthropology," she points out. "I'll be working on my Masters degree in primatology but, in the meantime, I'm back home for a few months and haven't decided yet what I'll do while I'm here. I do know though that part of my time will be spent volunteering