The two juvenile condors Pumalin and Liquine have been released back into the wild in Chile after being rescued from death.
Over a year ago, the male condor Pumalin was found when he could not fly after getting caught in a heavy storm. Liquine, a female, was rescued as she struggled to make it on her own in the wild.
After 14 months of rehabilitation, the condors were freed last week in the Patagonian National Park in Chile’s south. “Today, we have witnessed a milestone,” Christian Saucedo of the Rewilding Chile Foundation told news agency AFP when the animals were released.
“It is a very complex process… but it means returning individuals who would otherwise be condemned to live in captivity,” he said. The pair of condors will now go back to “learning the codes of condor society,” Saucedo added.
Threats to Andean condors
The Andean condor is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as vulnerable, with only 6700 mature individuals left in the world.
The executive director of the Manku Project for condor conservation, Dominic Duran, said that the biggest threat to condors is poisoned food set by humans to kill pumas or wild dogs who try to eat their farm animals.
When the pumas or wild dogs die, condors feed on their carcasses and get poisoned too, Duran said. The first to eat are usually the breeding males and females, Duran added, which means “the reproductive individuals at the top of the chain die.”
Other threats to Andean condors are hunting by humans, dwindling numbers of the wild animals that make up their diet and intoxication from poorly-managed landfills.
In 1990, American philanthropist Douglas Tompkins donated 8,000 square kilometers (3,088 square miles) of land to Chile and Argentina for conservation, which is now the Patagonia National Park.
An estimated 70 percent of Chile’s Andean condors live in the park. Pumalin and Liquine’s progress will be monitored with radio transmitters implanted in their wings.
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