The California Condors are enormous creatures. Their splayed finger-like wingtips, spiky ruffs, fleshy heads, and eyes that are flame-red make them look prehistoric. In California’s Big Sur is located the Condor Sanctuary.
Here, the majestic creatures are bred and cared for in captivity, until they are released to the wild. The mission has been going on since 1997. However, in 2020, the California Condors possibly faced their biggest threat from humanity.
The Wildfires Had Almost Decimated The California Condors
An arsonist had set fire to an illegal grow of marijuana in the previous year. The resulting blaze had swept through 80 acres of the Condor Sanctuary in August. Known as the Dolan Fire, the fire had scorched a total of 125,000 acres of land on the coast of Big Sur. 19 firefighters were injured. For the Sanctuary, pens were incinerated and the building for research was razed. Tragically, 101 California Condors being tracked by the organization were displaced.
Biologists could enter the preserve after a long two weeks. When they entered their worst fears had been realized. 11 California Condors were killed, two of them were chicks. Another adult Condor was recovered with severe burns. However, multiple surgeries could not improve its condition.
The California Condors reproduce slowly, and they live up to 60. Their biggest threat so far had been lead ammunition left behind in corpses by hunters. The Condors would scavenge the flesh, and get poisoned by the lead.
But there is good news. There were survivors, and most of them have healed completely. Moreover, apart from the fact that decades of legislation have banned hunting in the area, the Sanctuary is slowly working to make the Condor population self-sustaining. Presently, though, they need the help of humans to survive. A fundraiser has already contributed over $600,000 to rebuild the research station as well. The Sanctuary’s director hopes that one day the population will be stabilized. The ultimate aim is to delist California Condors completely. It has already been done as in the case, in 2007, of the Bald Eagles.