Bolivian environmental agencies announced an investigation into the apparent poisoning of 35 Andean condors in a rural community, one of the most devastating cases for the endangered species.
“It is an irreparable violation of our nature and species,” said the Environment and Water Ministry.
Deputy Environment Minister Magin Herrera confirmed that 35 dead condors had been discovered in the rural municipality of Laderas Norte in the southern department of Tarija.
“This loss is extremely severe given that the condors in question are 0.5 percent of the world’s condor population,” said Diego Mendez, a biologist associated with a raptor research program, according to Pagina Siete news site.
Andean Condor, Copyright David MacLeman, from the Surfbirds Galleries
The massive Andean condor, home to the South American mountain range, has a wingspan of 3.5 meters, making it one of the largest flying birds.
There are around 6,700 condors worldwide, but the numbers are falling. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the condor on its watch list as “almost threatened”.
Authorities believe the birds may have been poisoned a few days ago, although it is not clear whether the species was targeted.
“There is a likelihood of poisoning against them or other animals, but since condors are scavengers, they still succumb,” Mendez said.
This is the largest known case of its kind in Bolivia and against an endangered species.
“We condemn the act, we want it to be investigated. It’s an act that hurts us. In this department condors live and coexist with the (rural) communities without any problems, ”the governor of Tarija, Adrian Oliva, told reporters.