| ||An Andean condor, Vultur gryphus, spreads its 10-foot (3-m) wingspan and glides effortlessly above the autumn foliage of Patagonia. The world’s biggest bird was regarded as sacred by the Incas, and today it remains a symbol of this wild cordillera. Before the arrival of the colonizers, these raptors were common throughout the Andes, from Venezuela to the Peruvian coast and the Tierra del Fuego. The condor—a carrion-eater unfairly plagued by a bad reputation—was persecuted so efﬁciently that it vanished from many regions, notably from Venezuela and Colombia. Now reintroduction programs have been started in both countries, and there are pockets in Argentina and Chile where the bird remains plentiful. In many parts of the world, birds of prey have beneﬁted from protection and public awareness programs. Nevertheless, it is estimated that 12 percent of all bird species are in serious danger of becoming extinct.
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