Considered to be the largest flying bird in the world, the Andean Condor is seen as a symbol of power and health, with their skins commanding prices as high as 1000 soles ($25) apiece. Often times, certain animal species - even endangered ones - are hunted due to false beliefs that their meat or organs offer male virility or some type of cure for physical ailments and diseases in humans. It is a common belief by many villagers that the condor’s bones and organs offer many medicinal powers. Even though these beliefs are false, and grounded not in reality, but rather ignorance, the hunting practices threatening the condors existence is very real. Their ground bones are believed to alleviate rheumatism. Many natives eat the stomach of the Andean Condor because they believe it cures breast cancer. The eyes of the Condor are often roasted and eaten to sharpen one's sight, and their feathers are often placed under sleeping blankets to ward off nightmares.


For hundreds of years, the Condors have battled humankind for their own survival. They have been threatened by hunting, deforestation (loss of habitat), air pollution, food & water contamination and severe reduction of their food supply. In 1973, the Andean Condor was added to the Endangered Species list by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Even though an accurate census of the condor has yet to be initiated, it is believed that their population is greatly reduced and declining in Ecuador, Venezuela and Peru.


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