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Norberto L. Jácome

Icon of the Andes

Published in 1996clockTime to read: 40s
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Argentine biologist Norberto Luis Jácome has brought back from near-extinction the Andean condor, a majestic symbol of South America’s birdlife.

locationArgentina

With a wingspan of three metres, condors are a beloved sight in the Andean skies, revered locally as a sacred link between humans and the cosmos. But slow to breed, these magnificent creatures were in danger of disappearing from much of their original habitat.

A cultural change is absolutely necessary if we’re going to guarantee the continuity of life on this beautiful planet.

Not any more. Norberto Luis Jácome has devoted more than two decades to saving the condor. His breeding programme, the Andean Condor Conservation Program at Ecoparque Buenos Aires, has prepared condors born in captivity for life in the wild, boosting the natural population.

In 1996, when he received a Rolex Award to support his project, he had yet to liberate his first condor. Today, thanks to Jácome and an international network of supporters, the Andean condor is again floating on thermal updrafts from Venezuela to Tierra del Fuego. Artificial incubation, breeding without human contact and a rescue and rehabilitation centre that reintroduces birds into the wild have achieved the rearing of 57 chicks, the rescue of 197 condors and the release of 160 to bolster dwindling wild populations.

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