Vultur tracheliotus J. R. Forster, 1791, South Africa. Three subspecies.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: African black vulture, African king vulture, Nubian vulture; French: Vautour oricou; German: Ohrengeier; Spanish: Buitre Orejudo.
45.3 in (115 cm); 11.9–20.7 lb (5.4–9.4 kg). Very large bird, with bald pinkish head and lappet, wings dark brown and chest white with brown accents.
T.t. tracheliotus: southwest to Morocco, southern Mauritania to Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Africa. T.t. nubicus: Egypt and northern Sudan. T.t. negevensis: Israel and Arabian peninsula.
Semi-arid areas and desert with scattered trees and short grass. Occasionally into mesic open savanna and grassland.
No regular migration known but some local movement to avoid the rainy season. Sociable, congregates at carcasses (up to 50 recorded in company of other vultures) but often in pairs.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Mainly a scavenger, feeds on carrion, skin, and bone fragments from large carcasses. Dominant to other vultures when hungry, aggressively bounding at them, but often socializes around carcass before feeding.
Monogamous. Nests as solitary pair in flat-topped thorny trees. Builds a large platform of sticks lined with grass. Lays a single egg in the dry season, beginning about October–December, depending on region. Incubation about 55 days; fledging at about four months.
Vulnerable. Formerly thinly scattered throughout wide range. In 2000 only a small, declining population remained, estimated at about 8,500 individuals. Accidental poisoning from baits left by farmers for predators and persecution in the mistaken belief that the vulture preys on livestock are problems. Increasing numbers of recreational off-road vehicles may also be a threat because of the species’ sensitivity to nest disturbance.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
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