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Is the Andean Condor Endangered?

Shashank Nakate
The Andean Condor is an endangered species of vulture which needs to be protected and preserved through conscious efforts. However, protecting the natural habitat of these creatures is the biggest challenge faced in conservation efforts...
Planet Earth has seen a lot of animals and plants go extinct in the past few decades and the Andean Condor is fast becoming one of these. The Andean Condor, on the verge of extinction in 1970s, was declared endangered in 1973. Later, conservation efforts taken up by various environmental agencies helped gradually increase the number of condors.
These vultures have also been raised in captivity, as a part of conservation efforts. It was in the year 1989 that Andean Condors raised in captive environment were released in the wild. It is necessary to protect and conserve the Andean Condor as it plays an important role in the clean-up of the environment in its own way (scavenging).
This creature is also of great importance in the culture of countries in the western region of South America. It is also the national bird of Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia. Despite the conservation efforts, it remains true that Andean Condor is still an endangered species.
Vultures are an important part of our ecosystem and who are responsible for clean-up of carrion. Some of these quick facts about vultures should help you understand more about these creatures. For information on the current status of this condor and its notable characteristics, refer to the data presented below.

Andean Condor Facts

The scientific name of Andean Condor is Vultur gryphus and it belongs to the Cathartidae family of class, Aves and phylum, Chordata. It is mainly found in the regions surrounding the Andes mountains. These creatures are mostly found in grasslands and shrublands. However, this condor also inhabits deserts and coastal regions.
The regions with a windy atmosphere and presence of strong air currents are preferred by Andean Condors. This is why it preferably lives in grasslands and the high-altitude, mountainous regions of the Andes. The lifespan of these vultures can extend over 50 years.
The Andean Condors possess a bald head and the most remarkable feature of their anatomy is the wingspan. The length of both their wings put together can be up to 10.5 feet (3.2 m). The body color is black and the neck possesses a white collar/ruff. The difference between male and female condors is marked by the presence of caruncle/cock on the head in males.
The males of this species weigh between 11 kg and 15 kg, while female Andean Condors weigh between 6 kg and 14 kg. Andean Condors produce offspring about once in 2 years. Also the number of eggs laid in a clutch is just one.
The low rates of reproduction is one of the main reasons why this vulture species is far more vulnerable than other endangered animals of the world. These birds are scavengers by nature and generally feed on carcasses of large animals like cows, deer, etc.
The carcasses of animals like deer are available in the inland regions. In coastal areas, the condors feed on beached, aquatic creatures. The Andean Condor behavior also is sometimes predatory when it kills live prey.

Why Is the Andean Condor Endangered?

As stated earlier, the Andean Condor is an endangered species that needs protection to survive and flourish in its natural environment. The number of these birds has declined to a great extent in countries like Colombia and Venezuela. The human encroachment of the condor habitat is the main reason behind reduction in its number.
It has been observed that hunters poison animals in order to kill them. Condors feeding on carcasses of poisoned animals are likely to suffer and eventually die; lead is the poisonous material mostly found in carcasses of animals. Illegal shooting is another reason behind a drop-down in the condor population.
In some cases, the shooting of vultures takes place because farmers want to protect their livestock from these predatory birds. Traditions like the arranque del condor followed in countries like Peru should be put to an end.
Arranque del condor is a game in which the bird is hung from a frame and punched by horse riders as they pass by. It is traditions like these and the practice of shooting which could wipe out the vulture population within no time.
The conservation efforts (raising in captivity) directed to protect Californian Condors can also be used for Andean Condors. Mating in captivity should help increase their number. The most important thing to help them flourish, however, is expanding (or at least preserving) their natural habitat. This way, it is possible for the vultures and all other wild creatures to lead a secure life.