The Peregrine Fund in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador and members of the Andean Condor Working Group are excited to announce the successful rehabilitation and release of an Andean Condor – the world’s largest bird of prey. This newly released condor is a young male named Paway who was injured and unable to fly for unknown reasons Paway was cared for by veterinary staff for two and half months before he was ready for release in the high paramo habitat of Zuleta in northern Andes of Ecuador.
Andean Condors are vital to the ecosystem because of their role as carrion-feeders. Unfortunately, they are listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List and are declining throughout their range due to habitat loss, shooting, and poisoning. The Peregrine Fund and Andean Condor Working Group have been working in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador to monitor and reinforce the small population of condors in Ecuador – estimated at around 100 individual birds.
To aide in these efforts, the team of collaborators has been utilizing radio-telemetry units to track the movements of several Andean Condors. Paway will join this group of monitored birds wearing a high-tech GPS-GSM transmitter developed by Cellular Tracking Technologies (CTT) which donated the unit to the project. The telemetry unit was attached to Paway’s right wing and will not interfere with his ability to function as a normal condor.
The GPS-GSM unit is particularly exceptional because it transmits information over the cellular phone network rather than previous models of telemetry that used less efficient, satellite transmission. In addition, it is able to provide more data point readings than the satellite versions. Dr. Hernan Vargas, Program Director for Neotropical Science at The Peregrine Fund, says, “By providing this telemetry unit, CTT has enabled us to study the spatial use of this critically endangered species in Ecuador. We are excited about the information this new unit will provide.”
In addition to the support received by CTT for this bird, The Peregrine Fund and Andean Condor Group are grateful to Barbara Butler for funding this research, Centro de Rescate Ilitio which provided funding to purchase another GPS-GSM transmitter, Fundacion Galo Plaza Lasso for providing food and housing for Paway, Hospital Docente de Expecialidades Veterinarias – Universidad San Francisco de Quito and Veterinarian Andres Ortega for providing medical services to rehabilitate Paway, and the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador for providing the research permit and authorization to release Paway and support of the Andean Condor Project.
Paway is expected to reunite with other member of his social interacting group quickly. Vargas says, “We chose a release site that is along the pathway of wild condors moving from northern to central Ecuador. If all goes well, Paway will not only add to our knowledge of this species but also find a mate and help rebuild populations of this iconic symbol of Ecuador.”
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