"Counting the emblematic national bird will allow us to create policies focused on its preservation given its importance in our ecosystem," Neotropical Foundation Scientific Director Fausto Saenz assured.
The Andean condor, one of the largest birds in the world, is considered a sacred animal by many Latin American Indigenous communities.
"We consider it as a 'Messenger of the Sun', a way of transferring our desires and needs to our gods," Kokonuco Indigenous man Rosendo Quira explained, adding that if a condor approaches "it's because we are spiritually well."
"Indigenous people are joining forces with scientists to save Colombia's critically endangered condors. pic.twitter.com/US2Krh0DzZ"
Indiscriminate hunting and the expansion of agriculture and cattle ranching into high mountain territories threaten the conservation of the condor, a species that lays only one egg every two to three years.
Farmers often use poison to protect their animals from condor attacks. In 2018, a couple of them were found poisoned in Cauca Department. Environmental activists saved them and return them to the wildlife a few months later.
Colombia's Red Book of Birds included the Andean condor in the list of critically endangered species as it warned that there are just 150 free birds left.
"The figure is a hypothesis, as there is no clear data on their populations' status in the country," Saenz said, informing that the census ended on Feb. 15, and scientists are now compiling and processing the data.