Two female condors rescued in a rural Bolivian community were returned to their natural habitat on Tuesday after undergoing a rehabilitation process in the La Paz municipal biopark, while in the south of that country the investigation for the death of 34 of these birds by poisoning is progressing.
The birds, baptized as Choquekota and Retamani, were released on a hill near the rural community of Choquekota, in the southern municipality of Palca, in La Paz.
The release was led by the Vice Minister of the Environment, Magin Herrera; the Director of Companies and Entities of the La Paz Mayor’s Office, Verónica Rojas, officials of the national government and of the municipalities of La Paz and Palca, as well as indigenous authorities of these communities.
Journalists, scientists and authorities say goodbye to Choquekota, on one of the slopes of a hill on the outskirts of La Paz, Bolivia. Photo: AP
“The condor is a symbol that represents us to all Bolivians, it is on our shield. So we are very happy because the two condors have taken flight, “said Vice Minister Herrera.
Choquekota was found on February 2 in the community of the same name by local farmers who they saw her fall from a hillGrace Ledezma, director of the Vesty Pakos Biopark in La Paz, explained to EFE, whose institution was in charge of the rehabilitation of both condors.
The bird was taken to the Palca health center and the peasants contacted the national authorities who requested support from the La Paz biopark to rehabilitate it.
The second bird was found two days later in a similar situation by the farmers of the Retamani community, so it was baptized with that name.
Officials from the Vesty Pakos Municipal Biopark in La Paz carry a box containing one of the rescued condors that returned today to its natural habitat. Photo: EFE
The animals were taken to the municipal biopark of La Paz where they were performed health, physical and “behavioral” evaluations, finding that they were weak and severely dehydrated, according to Ledezma. Vitamins and a proper diet were part of the treatment they received that allowed them to gain weight and regain their health, he indicated.
The birds remained in “quarantine” in spaces set with natural elements to avoid contact with humans and “that they continue to exhibit the wild behaviors typical of the species.” After three weeks, Choquekota and Retamani were more active and they shunned human presence, which showed “that they were ready to return to nature,” added Ledezma.
One of the rescued females, ready to return to freedom. Photo: EFE
Before releasing them, they were fitted with devices with GPS to track them, explained Herrera, who also highlighted the commitment of the locals with the conservation of wildlife.
The slaughter of condors
While this was happening in La Paz, in the southern region of Tarija, investigations continue into the death of 34 condors at the beginning of this month of February 2021.
The investigating biologist of the non-governmental organization Nativa, Juan de Dios Garay, member of the commission in charge of determining the circumstances of the event, explained that “a fairly strong and lethal toxic component“.
According to different testimonies collected by the commission and by the authorities, residents of the area have left a poisoned goat as bait.
Along with the 34 dead condors, other raptor species were also found, such as the catharte aura and the plancus caracara Y five dogs, among other animals. The research biologist explained that even all kinds of “insects that are attracted to meat, to carrion, also died immediately if they tested the decomposition fluids” of condors and other animals.
According to the preliminary conclusions of that commission, residents of the Tarije town of Laderas Norte they wanted to protect their herds of stray dogs and some foxes that attacked their goats and sheep.
Regarding this case, a complaint has already been filed with the Public Ministry and from Nativa it is hoped that this fact will not be archived and “those responsible will be found.”
Unfortunately the collateral damage affected not only the condors but also other animals and what is worse: it is feared that many condor chicks also lose their lives.