Authorities in Ecuador are investigating the death of a young male Andean Condor that had been rescued and released to the wild in July 2013. The bird was wearing a satellite transmitter to track his movements and behaviors.
The condor’s successful recovery and release was described in Eye on Conservation, a column from the American Bird Conservancy, in our June 2014 issue.
Signals from the transmitter allowed scientists to find and recover the bird, which had been named Felipe by his rescuers, on April 12. An X-ray examination and necropsy located one bullet on the right leg and several bullet holes in the body.
“Felipe was the first Andean Condor in Ecuador to have a satellite transmitter, and I had high hopes that he would provide information about what condors need to survive in the northern Andes,” said Hernan Vargas, director of The Peregrine Fund’s Neotropical Science program. “Felipe was very popular in Ecuador as an ambassador for condor conservation. I am deeply disappointed.”
This was the fourth Andean Condor to be shot and killed in Ecuador in the last 18 months. The two-year-old condor was one of only about 50 condors surviving in the wild in Ecuador, where they are critically endangered. Overall, the species is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.
“This is a significant loss in a small population,” Vargas said.
While the condor was alive, Vargas and other researchers gained valuable information that had never been collected in Ecuador, including flight patterns and previously unknown roosting sites, the high cliffs protected from weather and predators where condors sleep and perch.
Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment is working with national police to locate those responsible for the condor’s death.