Monday, February 14, 2011

Condor Conservation

I’ve seen three Andean condors in my life: two in the Boise zoo and now one of a pair in the Buenos Aires zoo. (I’m not sure where the condor’s mate was that day.) They’re not the prettiest birds in the world, but they’re among the grandest. With a wing-span topping ten feet and weighing up to twenty-five pounds, the Andean condor is the largest flying bird in the world.

Andean condor population numbers are higher than their California cousins, though they are declining. Conservationists at the Buenos Aires Zoo are partnering with Fundacion BioAndina on a captive breeding program to help rebuild wild populations. Although the condors are doing fairly well in the southern part of the range in Argentina and Chile, many parts of the historic range in Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Columbia have been depleted.

Andean condors feed on carrion, spotting carcasses from above while soaring on updrafts in the cordillera. One of the major threats stems from the misconception that condors are hunters. Although revered by some people, others kill the huge birds, afraid that they will prey on livestock. In addition to augmenting wild populations of the condors, the conservation partners are working to dispel myths about condor predation. If I’m lucky, I may see one of these giants of the sky during my stay in Patagonia.
--Bas Hargrove

1 comment:

Cher and Geo's RV Adventure said...

Just returned from Antisana Eco Reserve near Quito where we were treated to sighting 13 condors. Truely magnificent.