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.