The majestic Andean condor is one of the world’s largest flying birds, with an 11-foot wingspan and up to 33 pounds in weight. Condors have become rare in northern South America due to hunting and habitat loss, but remain present in Patagonia and abundant in certain areas. In the Patagonian and Andean Steppes, these scavengers used to consume guanaco and vicuña carcasses almost exclusively, but they now feed also on remains of livestock and introduced species such as European hares and red deer.
Andean condors have been extirpated from much of Patagonia because they consume poisoned livestock that are placed by producers to kill predators. They are also hunted by people who believe they are hunters and kill their livestock.
We work with livestock producers and government agencies to improve populations of the Andean condor’s natural food species and to reduce the use of poisons to control carnivores throughout Patagonia. We also assist park rangers to monitor condor roosting and nesting sites to keep track of population status. Finally, our research seeks to better understand the links between condors and their native food species, to inform broader conservation schemes involving suites of species in the region.