Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 2:52 pm
In Peru's annual Blood Festival, a condor is tied to the back of a bull and tries to gouge its eyes, while the bull attempts to shake off the giant bird. The event is popular in many parts of the country, but conservationists say this threatens a bird already at risk.
The Peruvian Blood Festival is a striking spectacle, with a giant condor strapped to the back of an enraged bull in front of a roaring crowd. For many Peruvians, it is a symbolic re-enactment of their liberation from Spanish rule. For conservationists, it is yet another threat to one of the world's largest birds.
To prepare for this annual event, known as the Yawar Fiesta, residents in the small village of Coyllurqui climb into the surrounding cliffs to trap a condor. It may then be held for weeks. But when it's time for the battle, the condor is given alcohol to drink and lashed to the back of a half-ton bull in an arena. The beast then tries to shake off the condor, while the huge bird attempts to gouge out the bull's eyes.
These Andean people believe the condor is a symbol of the Inca nation, and the bull represents the might of the Spanish conquistadors. Though they predominately identify themselves as Christians, villagers see the condor as an Andean god that has come down from the heavens to fight for their freedom.
There's a lot at stake during the battle. If any harm should come to the condor, the villagers believe it's a bad omen for the year — and the dwindling condor population suffers another setback.