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Andean Condor Vultur gryphus

This species has a moderately small global population which is suspected to be declining significantly owing to persecution by man. It is consequently classified as Near Threatened.

Taxonomic source(s)
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at:
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Distribution and population
Vultur gryphus occurs throughout the Andes, in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay south to Argentina and Chile (Houston 1994). It is threatened mostly in the north of its range, and is exceedingly rare in Venezuela and Colombia, where a re-introduction programme using captive-bred individuals is in operation (Hilty and Brown 1986, Houston 1994). A similar project is under way in Argentina (J. C. Chebez in litt. 1999).

Population justification
This species is described as uncommon and probably declining. Its population is estimated to number at least 10,000 individuals in total (surely runs into five figures), roughly equivalent to 6,700 mature individuals. Since 2000, declines have continued in Ecuador (c.65 birds in five disjunct populations remain [R. Williams in litt. 2002]), Peru and Bolivia, but it remains numerous and appears to be stable in northern Argentina (M. Pearman in litt. 2003). The largest known population is in north-west Patagonia and comprises an estimated c.300 individuals of which c.200 are adults (Lambertucci 2010). Populations in Venezuela  (<30 individuals [Cuesta and Sulbaran 2000], or fewer [Sharpe et al. 2008]) and Colombia may be maintained by reintroduction and feeding, but in Colombia at least the population may still be declining. The status of remaining populations is difficult to determine because its mortality, breeding frequency and success are so poorly known (Houston 1994).

Trend justification
A moderately rapid and on-going decline is suspected, owing to levels of persecution by humans.

It is found principally over open grassland and alpine regions up to 5,000 m, descending to lowland desert regions in Chile and Peru (Houston 1994, Parker et al. 1996), and over southern-beech forests in Patagonia.

It is clearly adapted for exceptionally low mortality and reproductive output, and is therefore highly vulnerable to human persecution, which persists in parts of its range owing to alleged attacks on livestock (Houston 1994). Increased tourism in parts of Chile and Argentina may have led to a reduction in persecution by demonstrating the ecotourism value of the species (S. Imberti in litt. 2003). The persecution of mountain lions and foxes through the illegal poisoning of carcasses may affect the species in some areas (S. Imberti in litt. 2003). In Argentina Condors are highly dependent on the carcasses of exotic herbivores, which form 98.5% of their diet, making them vulnerable to changes in livestock raising (Lambertucci et al. 2009). Interspecific competition for carcasses with Black Vultures Coragyps atratus, which have recently begun to occupy the same areas, may have a deleterious effect on Andean Condor populations (Carrete et al. 2010).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. CMS Appendix II.
Conservation Actions Proposed
Census population based on use of photography/video to recognise individual birds at feeding stations (Ríos-Uzeda and Wallace 2007). Study extent to which species makes large-scale movements. Study potential impact on livestock and begin dialogue with farmers with the aim of reducing persecution.

Carrete, M.; Lambertucci, S. A.; Speziale, K. ; Ceballos, O.; Travaini, A.; Delibes, M.; Hiraldo, F.; Donzar, J. A. 2010. Winners and losers in human-made habitats: interspecific competition outcomes in two Neotropical vultures. Animal Conservation 13: 390-398.

Cuesta, M. R.; Sulbarán, E. A. 2000. Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus). In: Reading, R.P.; Miller, B. (ed.), Endangered Animals: a reference guide to conflicting issues, pp. 16-21. Greenwood Press, London.

Ferguson-Lees, J.; Christie, D. A. 2001. Raptors of the world. Christopher Helm, London.

Hilty, S. L.; Brown, W. L. 1986. A guide to the birds of Colombia. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Houston, D. C. 1994. Cathartidae (New World Vultures). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. (ed.), Handbook of the birds of the world, pp. 24-41. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Lambertucci, S. A. 2010. Size and spatio-temporal variations of the Andean Condor Vultur gryphus population in north-west Patagonia, Argentina: communal roosts and conservation. Oryx 44(3): 441-447.

Lambertucci, S. A.; Trejo, A.; Martino, S. Di; Snchez-Zapata, J. A.; Donzar, J. A.; Hiraldo, F. 2009. Spatial and temporal patterns in the diet of the Andean Condor: ecological replacement of native fauna by exotic species. Animal Conservation 12: 338-345.

Parker, T. A.; Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W. 1996. Ecological and distributional databases. In: Stotz, D.F.; Fitzpatrick, J.W.; Parker, T.A.; Moskovits, D.K. (ed.), Neotropical bird ecology and conservation, pp. 113-436. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Ríos-Uzeda, B.; Wallace, R. B. 2007. Estimating the size of the Andean Condor population in the Apolobamba Mountains of Bolivia. Journal of Field Ornithology 78(2): 170-175.

Sharpe, C.J.; Rojas-Suárez, F.; Ascanio, D. 2008. Cóndor Vultur gryphus. In: Rodríguez, J.P. and Rojas-Suárez, F. (eds), Libro Rojo de la fauna Venezolana. Tercera Edición, pp. 128. Provita & Shell Venezuela, S.A., Caracas, Venezuela.

Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Clay, R., Mazar Barnett, J., Sharpe, C J & Symes, A.

Chebez, J., Pearman, M., Williams, R. & Sharpe, C J

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Vultur gryphus. Downloaded from on 22/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/07/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Cathartidae (New World vultures)
Species name author Linnaeus, 1758
Population size 6700 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 2,540,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species