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Aves Bird of the week - Lappet-faced Vulture

The Lappet-faced Vulture, African eared vulture or Nubian Vulture - Aegypius tracheliotos - is the largest, and among the rarest, of all of the African vultures. This large, long and square-winged vulture is black-looking with white thighs and white bar running across leading edge of underwing in flight. Like many vultures, it has a bald head which is pink/reddish with loose folds of skin which look like ears. It has the strongest beak of any vulture. They are the most powerful and aggressive of the vultures and other  vultures will usually cede a carcass to them.

The species inhabits dry savannah, arid plains, deserts and open mountain slopes.

The Lappet-faced Vulture is a scavenging bird, feeding mostly from animal carcasses, focusing on the skin, tendons and ligaments of these carcasses. It is also known to hunt, taking a variety of small reptiles, fish, birds and mammals, and has been observed group-hunting flamingo chicks.  

The nest is built by both sexes and is usually placed at the top of a tree. It consists of a large platform of sticks lined with dry grass, hair and skin. Lappet-faced vultures are monogamous with a life long pair bond. The breeding season in southern Africais from February to October, peaking from May to June. They usually lay a single egg which is incubated by both parents for about 55 days. The chick is brooded almost constantly by both adults for the first four weeks, ceasing completely after another four weeks. It is fed by both parents, leaving the nest at approximately 120 to 128 days and becoming fully independent up to 170 days later.

They breed in Egypt, Senegal, Niger, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Swaziland, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen and possibly Libya. The species also occurs in The Gambia, northern Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, Central African Republic and southern Angola. The African population is estimated to be in the region of 8,000 and there may be 500 in the Middle East. The total population is in decline.

This species is classified as Vulnerable since only a small, declining population remains, owing primarily to poisoning and persecution, as well as ecosystem alterations.

These large striking vultures can be seen on the following Aves Birding Tours/Safaris/Adventures: -

Aves Arid Birding Tour/Safari/Adventure.

Aves Highlands/Tembe Birding Tour/Safari/Adventure.

Aves KZN Birding Tour/Safari/Adventure.

Aves North East Birding Tour/Safari/Adventure.

Aves North West Tour/Safari/Adventure.  




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