Thursday 24 December 2020

RBA: Andean Condor heads list of raptors in steep decline


The Andean Condor is now classed as Vulnerable to extinction

Poisoned, poached, persecuted – iconic raptors such as the Andean Condor, Secretarybird and Martial Eagle have moved to higher threat categories in this year’s update to the IUCN Red List, sparking fears that the crisis that brought many Asian and African vultures to the edge of extinction has spread to new continents and species.

The Andean Condor the national bird of Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia – is now globally threatened with extinction. This year, the emblematic species had its threat level raised to Vulnerable in our annual update to the IUCN Red List of threatened species (for which BirdLife is the authority for birds). With a wingspan of over three metres, the Andean Condor is one of the world’s largest flying birds, making an unmistakable silhouette as it soars above the Andes mountains at altitudes of up to 6,500 metres. It is also one of the longest-lived bird species, with a natural lifespan of up to 70 years.

However, this majestic scavenger has seen rapid population declines in recent years due to persecution and poisoning. The bird is deliberately shot or targeted using poisoned bait in retaliation to extremely infrequent attacks on livestock. It is also impacted by illegal use in folkloric events and trade, and can die from ingesting lead shot left in carrion.

“The Andean Condor is built to last. But humans are ruining its natural ‘live slow, die old’ life strategy, causing high death rates from which it is hard to recover,” says Ian Davidson, Regional Director, BirdLife in the Americas. “This iconic raptor has been found in Andean folklore since 2,500 BC. To lose it now would be a tragedy for South American culture and ecosystems alike.”

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