LA PAZ – A team of veterinarians and biologists traveled on Monday to a ravine in the southern Bolivian region of Tarija where 35 condors were found dead.
The experts “will work at the site to take samples and identify what happened,” regional Gov. Adrian Oliva told reporters.
Other animals, including a goat and several dogs, turned up dead in the ravine along with the 18 male and 17 female condors, he said.
“We must identify what it is that has caused this and locate those responsible, because this cannot go unpunished,” Oliva said.
The site is in a remote part of Laderas, a community roughly 40 minutes by road from Tarija city, the regional capital.
While authorities suspect the dead birds and animals were poisoned, it will be up to the experts to get to the bottom of the mystery, according to Eduardo Rueda, the regional government’s director for biodiversity.
Another team of specialists will comb the surrounding area in search of “other dead animals that can cause some type of poisoning,” he said.
The investigation is a joint effort of municipal, regional and national authorities.
Laderas residents reported the dead condors to local representatives of Pofoma, Bolivia’s forest service and environmental enforcement agency.
For the moment, however, Rueda asked people in the area to keep their distance so investigators can get on with the work.
“It’s not something to come and take photos,” he said.
Bolivia enacted a law in 2015 that makes the unlawful killing of wildlife punishable by to five years in prison.
The condor is a national symbol in Bolivia, as it is in other Andean nations such as Chile, Ecuador and Colombia.