Dramatic Yawar festivals are designed to show the triumph of indigenous culture over colonial influence, but the number of condors injured and killed raises fears for the species’ survival
“We know there are up to 55 Yawar fiestas a year… and some condors are dying. Undoubtedly it is a threat to a species that is at a very much reduced population level,” says Rob Williams, Peru co-ordinator for the Frankfurt Zoological Society, who estimates there may be just 300-500 left in the wild in Peru. “We are on a threshold and if we push the condors much further over this threshold, it will be very difficult for them to recover.”
This festival marries colonial influences with the Andean worship of the condor – considered a messenger between earth and the heavens.
How much longer the condor and the Yawar can continue to grace the Andes looks likely to depend on whether the festival can undergo another evolution to add that most modern of ideas – conservation – to the blend of local traditions and foreign influences that already constitute the Yawar fiesta.