The Lappet-faced Vulture is the only member of the Torgos genus. It is African Old World vulture which belongs to the same family as eagles, kites, buzzards and hawks. It is not closely related to the superficially similar New World vultures, and does not share the good sense of smell of some members of that group. In the near future it might be merged with the close relative Cinereous Vulture and with Gyps, Sarcogyps, and Trigonoceps the two species might be merged into a single genus, Aegypius.
population, is treated as a separate race for having a browner plumage, partly brownish thighs, pale head and less developed lappets. However, relatively recent studies have shown that the Arabian populations are more distinct indicating that it is best to treat the species as two races, with nubicus representing a somewhat intermediate stage in a cline of decreasing colour and contrast from south to northeast. The African race, A. t. tracheliotus, is very black, with white thighs and patagial line, bald red head, large lappets and yellow (in south) or black bill. A. t. negevensis, the race from the north-eastern extreme of the species range, is altogether browner, including partly
brown thighs and brown patagial line, downy greyish and pink head, blackish bill which makes it comparable to immature stage in sub-Saharan Africa. The difference between the two subspecies appears to be more distinct in flight making their identification from below easier. The southern and eastern tracheliotus has a strikingly black and white appearance while negevensis is uniformly blackish brown with only some individuals showing white markings on the underwing. However, birds from Israel including those that dispersed from Saudi Arabia, have quite large amount of pure white feathers on the back.
|wingspan min.:||250||cm||wingspan max.:||280||cm|
|size min.:||78||cm||size max.:||105||cm|
|incubation min.:||53||days||incubation max.:||55||days|
|fledging min.:||125||days||fledging max.:||55||days|
top of high trees with special preference for thorny species of Acacia, Balanites and Terminalia. Other tree types like broad-leaved figs and cedar are sometimes used.
breadth of 100 cm. A bird builds its nest from sticks, lining the inside part with dry grass before carpeting it with hair and skin from regurgitated pellets. Pairs often build only one nest, but it is also normal to have 1-3 nests that are used alternately. A nest
is used year after year, often for many years, unless the foundation on which it was built is unstable, in which case it could collapse and then be deserted. In some cases branches growing around a nest may make it inaccessible for pairs, instigating desertion. The birds repair an old nest by placing new sticks round the rim and relining it with fresh grass in courtship periods. One or both birds usually roost in or beside a nest, sometimes for as long as the whole year and such a habit is practised more regularly with the approach of the laying date.
The normal clutch is one egg, (although rarely at times birds lay two eggs) and spend 54-56 days incubating it. Before laying, the females spend some time in an incubation posture. Although both sexes participate in the incubation process, the proportion of time that each of them spend for this purpose is not yet determined. After incubation, the egg hatches, the chick taking 125-135 days to fledge successfully. A complete nesting cycle, that starts with the laying of an egg, and culminates with the first flight of a fledged chick, therefore takes c. 185 days. Remarkably though, there is a record of a pair of Lappet-faced Vultures hatching and rearing a White-headed Vulture in the wild.
adopted by the species.
Video Lappet-faced Vulture
copyright: Peter van Dam
Torgos tracheliotus breeds 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 (an increasing population, in excess of 500 individuals), United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen and possibly Libya. The species also occurs in The Gambia, northern Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Central African Republic and southern Angola. It is no longer thought to breed in Cote d’Ivoire. It has been extinct in Algeria and Tunisia since the 1930s, and now only small populations remain in southern Egypt, and Mauritania. The last records from Morocco concerned two birds in 1972. It is considered likely to be extinct in Western Sahara, as it has not been recorded there since 1955. In Nigeria, there has been a major decline since the late 1970s and it may now have been extirpated. It probably previously bred in Jordan, and is considered extinct in Israel, where three birds remained until 1994. The species was not recorded during surveys in 2004 in northern Mali and Niger along the same transects that yielded 96 birds in 1971-1973. The combination of these results with comparable transect surveys from Burkina Faso indicate a decline in abundance of c.97% in rural areas and c.39% in national parks between 1969-1973 and 2003-2004. It is suffering a slow decline in southern Africa, although the population in central Mozambique is probably stable. There are possibly 1,000 pairs (almost 3,000 individuals) in southern Africa, at least the same in east and north-east Africa, and possibly only c.500 pairs in West Africa and the Sahara, giving a total rough estimate of the African population of at least 8,000 individuals.
immature birds are also dispersive. Vagrants were also recorded in the last 50 years in countries like Morocco, southern Libya, Jordan, northern Israel (after their extinction from Israel, thus the birds could have most likely come from Saudi Arabia) and Spain.
CHICKS IN THE NAMIB-NAUKLUFT PARK