California condors BACK in Sequoia National Park

It has been almost 50 years since the last time someone saw a Condor hovering above a Sequoia tree or making a nest in their cavities. But on May 28th, Wednesday, some of the staff members of Sequoia National Park reported that they saw Condors around different spots in the park.

Condors are considered to be a few of the rarest birds across the world. They are also the largest land bird in entire North America. Unfortunately, during the 1960s a significant decrease in their population started happening. So much that they were officially labeled as an endangered species in 1967. 15 years later, in 1982, less than 25 condors were left in the entire world. These remaining Condors were captured to be made part of the Captive Breeding Programs being held at the Los Angeles Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park.

According to the Biologists of that time, the major cause of Condor extinction was lead poisoning. What would happen was the colonizers would come to the West to hunt all kinds of animals to make pesticides out of them. Not caring about the carcasses of these animals, as they haven’t discovered the use of them yet, they would leave them behind with lead bullets stuck in them. Condors, as they are scavengers, would eat these carcasses and in result become a victim of lead poisoning.

For 10 years these Condors were under extreme care and efforts were being done on the federal level to save them from extinction. After many discussions and talks, the authorities decided to release them back in the wild. For this, they selected the Los Padres National Forest in Southern California. And although there have been multiple sightings of them around Sequoia trees in the last 7 to 8 years, this was the first time in 50 years that they were seen in the Sequoia National Park.

Biologists have been using GPS transmitters to track the movement of birds over hundreds of miles on a single day, as told by Dave Meyer who is a California condor biologist and works with the Santa Barbara Zoo.

A total of 6 birds were observed on 28th May in the Sequoia National Park. Two of them were sitting on top of the Moro Rock which is a popular hiking destination among visitors, while four of them were seen flying in the Giant Forest.

Because of the current global pandemic, the park was closed since late March. Some have been saying that the return of these Condors to their historical habitat might be because of that i.e. lack of visitors in the park, as many other wildlife animals have also been returning their landscapes ever since there has been a significant decrease in human activity everywhere because of the Coronavirus.

All in all, their return to the park marks their return to their historical habitat.

“It took decades for the population to recover to the point where they were being seen in locations far beyond their release site,” said Tyler Coleman who is a wildlife biologist and works at the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. “This is evidence of continued recovery of the species. The animal was on the brink of extinction, and arrival in Sequoia is good evidence that they are utilizing and occupying habitat where they once lived. It is an important milestone.”

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