This vulture, sometimes known as the Nubian Vulture, is the biggest on the African continent. As a result, it is robust and powerful, overpowering other raptors as well as predators such as jackals.
A strong beak allows the Lappet-faced Vulture to rip through tough carcasses and break bones. After the Lappet-faced Vulture has completed breaking up the carcass into more manageable pieces, this makes it simpler for the smaller scavengers to eat on it.
This pretty ugly bird of prey is a rare sighting enjoyed by many birders. Join us in learning more about this species of vulture and check it off your birding list when you travel to Namibia and stay with us at Ohorongo.
A huge vulture with a muscular, bare square head, a heavy bluish-yellow beak, and wrinkled loose skin on the face (lappets). Adults have a brown-and-white striped chest and puffy white pants, whilst immatures are completely brown. The large wings, white leggings, and little white lines near the front of the wing are all diagnostic in flight. Vultures are rare and diminishing in open land, but they are more common in drier places than other vultures. At kills, aggressive, dominating the proceedings and leaving the carcass accessible to other scavengers.
The Lappet-faced vulture may be found all throughout Africa and the Middle East, from the southern Sahara to the Sahel, east Africa to the country’s centre, and as far north as northern South Africa. This vulture may be found in dry savannah, desert, or semi-arid environments with only short grass, thorn bushes, and scattered trees across much of its range, as well as on open mountain slopes as high as 4,500 metres above sea level. Although open habitat is good for feeding, trees are also essential for nesting and roosting, with thorny species such as acacia, terminalia, and balanites being favoured.
Lappet-faced Lappet-faced Lappet-faced Lappet Vultures may be found in deserts and semi-arid regions, as well as dry savannahs. In these areas, the vegetation mainly consists of thorn bushes, short grasses, and the occasional tree strewn throughout the terrain. Vultures need a place to sleep and nest, thus these trees are highly vital to them.
Lappet-faced Vultures may also be found on open mountain slopes up to 4,500 metres above sea level.
This amazing bird, like other vultures, is a scavenger, meaning it feeds on animals that have previously perished (as opposed to hunting and killing the animals themselves). The Lappet-faced Vulture will only consume living food, which is generally a tiny animal, if carcasses are not readily available (such as a rodent or a smaller bird).
Lappet-faced Lappet-faced Lappet-faced Lappet Vulture is a gregarious bird, regularly associating with other scavengers surrounding the cadaver. It does not, however, have the gregarious behaviour that certain vultures are noted for.
A pair of Lappet-faced Vultures may have one to three nests, which they may utilise again. Some birds breed all year (typically in the eastern region of Africa), whereas others only breed during specific seasons. They typically breed in South Africa from May to February.
Individuals begin breeding at the age of six.
The breeding pairs male and female both sit on the one egg she lays. Between 54 and 56 days pass throughout the incubation phase.
Depending on numerous environmental circumstances and food availability, this bird can live for 20 to 50 years.
Humans. Lappet-faced Vulture is a Vulnerable bird. The human population is its greatest threat. Many people die as a result of purposeful or unintentional poisoning. Another danger is that the amount of carcasses on which they can feed is dwindling. Agriculture, pollution, urbanisation, and hunting can all contribute to this.
Ecology and Conservation
The Lappet-Faced Vulture’s scavenging habit aids in the breakdown and recycling of animal debris. They assist in the clearance of corpses and the prevention of disease transmission.
Other predators, such as crows, feed on vulture eggs and chicks.
Accidental poisoning, mostly from strychnine, which is employed by many farmers for predator control, and more recently carbofuran, has played a substantial role in the reduction.
These birds’ top beaks may be exchanged for traditional medicine, and they are sometimes misidentified as livestock predators.
According to estimates, the entire population is rapidly dwindling. According to Ogada et al. (2016), Africa’s population might drop by 80% in just over three generations.
The lappet-faced vulture is one of Africa’s most dangerous birds. It has one of the strongest beaks, and because to its capacity to tear off skin, tendons, and ligaments that are too tough for smaller scavengers, it frequently arrives last to the carcass. They can, in fact, strip a small antelope corpse to the bone in less than 20 minutes.
Smaller vultures are typically scared away or stolen by larger vultures due to their intimidating size.
These vultures don’t only eat carrion; they’ve been observed sitting around termite mounds or locust nests, eating the insects as they emerge from their tunnels.
Lappet-faced vultures prey on flamingo colonies, killing adults and young as well as stealing eggs.
They are frequently seen alone or in pairs. They don’t find carrion by smelling it, contrary to common perception. They locate carcasses by observing the actions of other birds.
Their featherless heads and necks aid in their cleanliness by allowing them to shake off any sticky leftovers from their meals. Because this is the hardest region of the body to preen, the sun bakes away any germs or parasites.
These vultures have the largest wingspan of any African vulture.
— Bronwyn Reynolds, Fizzin