PURCHASED: Defending the Threatened Andean Condor, Ecuador


LOCATION:  Andes of Pichincha Province, northern Ecuador

SIZE: 6,100 acres

KEY SPECIES:  Andean Condor, Andean Ibis, and Spectacled Bear

HABITAT:   High-elevation paramo  with forest, lakes, and wetlands.

THREATS:  cattle ranchers, poisoning of condors, & hunting.

ACTION: Purchase “Antisanilla” and replace cattle with alpacas.

PARTNERFundación Jocotoco

Thanks to generous support from our donors, the Antisanilla Hacienda has been successfully purchased.

Project Description

At 18,714 feet, the massive, glaciated peak of Antisana dominates the landscape of Central Ecuador. Among the spectacular grassy slopes that ring the dormant volcano lies a uniquely rugged complex of canyons and cliffs, known locally as Antisanilla. This area, which  provides refuge for over half of Ecuador’s Andean condor population, has recently come up for sale, and with it the opportunity to create a sanctuary for this iconic species.

Rainforest Trust is helping purchase this area, which is valued at $263 an acre. But we need your help to purchase the land and to create this important condor refuge. Upon sale, the new 6,100-acre purchase will be added to the existing Antisana Reserve, thus placing it off limits from threats like unsustainable cattle ranching, hunting and agricultural intensification that jeopardize its long-term viability.

Please join us in our efforts to save this remarkable landscape!

Project Background

For nearly a decade, we, along with our Ecuadorean partner, Fundación Jocotoco, have been working to protect the Antisana Region, which faces continued threat due to increased agricultural demands. These efforts met with success two years ago, when we supported Fundación Jocotoco in the purchase of a large ranch at the base of Antisana. Soon afterwards, the Ecuadorean Government bought two more ranches bringing the total area purchased to more than 200,000 acres. With these deals complete, the Antisana Reserve, which protects both high Andean grasslands and beautiful sections for cloud forest, was born.

As Jocotoco staff began to explore Antisana more thoroughly, it became clear that an area just outside the reserve was also of crucial importance, in particular for Ecuador’s national bird, the majestic Andean condor.

This area, Antisanilla, owes a significant portion of its modern shape to a volcanic eruption four hundred years ago that sent lava flowing down the slopes of Antisana. These flows, now long hardened, combined with the area’s already craggy, canyon-laced terrain to create a unique landscape, which was found to be well-suited for the Andean condor.

With cliffs in the area serving as roosting and nesting sites, as many as forty condors – over half of Ecuador’s much-diminished population condor population – have been observed sailing through its canyons. To the staff’s delight, a remarkably high percentage of the condors still had brown plumage and could be identified as juveniles, a strong indication that the birds were successfully nesting there.

Not only is Antisanilla the most important condor refuge in Ecuador, but it is also situated quite close to Ecuador’s capital city of Quito. By virtue of this location, Antisanilla is well-poised to become a popular  ecotourism destination, which could mean a sustainable income for local people, along with strong incentives to maintain the landscape in its natural state.

About the Andean Condor

With a ten-foot wingspan rivaling the bumper-to-bumper length of some economy cars, the legendary Andean condor is one of the largest flying birds in the world. Although Andean condors have been known to live up to one hundred years in captivity, they reproduce slowly and their numbers have shrunk in recent years. At one time, the condor’s range stretched nearly the entire distance of the Andes, from Colombia to the southern tip of South America. Today, that range has been reduced significantly and sightings are much less common.

The Antisanilla Dream

Creating this reserve is a big dream, in a big, wide-open countryside – but with your assistance we can make it happen. Please help us to protect this magnificent place, so rich in Andean wildlife, now and forever!