A total of 23 California condors flying free and six other soon to be released are the basis of a project to reintroduce the species in Mexico's Baja California state, the Environment Secretariat said.
The figures represent the results of an effort to bring the California condor back to the Sierra de San Pedro Martir mountains in the northwestern state of Baja California, the secretariat said in a statement.
The first step of the program was in 2002 when the Los Angeles Zoo donated six birds as part of the joint effort by Mexico and the United States to restore California condor populations to their native environments.
The project is "at the point of achieving the reproduction of California condors in the wild," with 1.5 million pesos ($114,123) being spent on the program this year, Environment Secretary Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada said after visiting the area.
The money goes for equipment, management and rehabilitation, dealing with such problems as lead poisoning (often caused by the birds swallowing bullets in animal carcasses left by hunters), and the training of specimens born in captivity for life on the wing in the Sierra de San Pedro Martir.
Also taking part in the project along with the Environment Secretariat are the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, or INEGI, the National Protected Natural Areas Commission, or Conanp, and other academic institutions, and Mexican and U.S. non-governmental organizaciones.
Since 2008, some 10 nesting sites have been found, the coordinator of the binational project, Juan Julian Vargas, said.
Since condors nest in caves, it can take hours to find them, despite the signals emitted by the radio transmitter attached to one of their wings, Vargas said.
The "key to success" for the project of reintroducing the California condor in the Sierra de San Pedro Martir is "the combination and consistency" of a number of elements like the state of conservation and the topographical characteristics of the mountains, the scant presence of humans and the application of a rigorous management and monitoring plan for the birds in the wild, Vargas said.
The specialist praised the team of expert biologists, the coordination among Mexican and U.S. institutions, their understanding of the environment, plus the unfailing financing provided by the governments of Mexico and the United States.