Justification of Red List Category
This species has a moderately small global population which is suspected to be declining moderately rapidly owing to persecution by man. It is consequently classified as Near Threatened.
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).
A moderately rapid and ongoing decline is suspected, owing to levels of persecution by humans.
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).
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 and Research Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. CMS Appendix II.
Conservation and Research 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.
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
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Vultur gryphus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/08/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/08/2019.