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Lappet faced vulture (Torgos Tracheliotus) - Data, info, interactions.

Australia GreenGrolar Offline
Regular Member

Lappet-faced Vultures or Nubian Vultures.

The Lappet-faced Vulture or Nubian Vulture, Torgos tracheliotus is an African Old World vulture belonging to the bird order Accipitriformes, which also includes eagles, kites, buzzards and hawks. It is the only member of the genus Torgos. A distinct subspecies T. t. negevensis occurs in the Sinai, the Negev desert and probably in north-west Saudi Arabia.

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.

*This image is copyright of its original author

It is about 95--115 cm (37--45 in) in body length, with a wingspan of 2.5--3 m (8.2--9.9 ft). Wild vultures, of the subspecies T. t. tracheliotus, range from 4.4 to 9.4 kg (9.8--20.7 lbs) and, in East Africa, average only 6.2 kg (13.6 lbs). On the other hand, captive vultures of the slightly larger T. t. negevensis subspecies, weighed 6.5--9.2 kg (14.3--20.2 lbs) in males and 10.5--13.9 kg (23.1--30.6 lbs) in females

Like many vultures, it has a bald head. The pink (sometimes reddish) coloration is a distinctive feature. The head is bald because a feathered head would become spattered with blood and other fluids, and thus be difficult to keep clean.

*This image is copyright of its original author

Diet / Feeding.

It is a scavenging bird, feeding mostly from animal carcasses animals which it finds by sight or by watching other vultures. Large carcasses, since they provide the most subsistence at a sitting, are preferred.

Lappet-faced Vultures, perhaps more than any other vulture, will on occasion attack young and weak living animals and raid the nests of other birds. Locally, Lesser Flamingoes, among others, have been reported to be culled by Lappet-faces in this way.

They are the most powerful and aggressive of the African vultures and other vultures usually cede a carcass to the Lappet-faced Vulture. This is often beneficial to the less powerful vultures because the Lappet-face can tear through the tough hides and muscles of large mammals that the others cannot penetrate, although hyenas are even more efficient in this regard.

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Australia GreenGrolar Offline
Regular Member

Some info of the LPV obtained from 'Vultures of Africa' by Peter Mundy - I have to do a little summarising as it would consume my time typing out everything word for word:

Tracheliotos: wholly white thighs, large lappets, and scarlet bald head.
South African species: yellow bill from experience and East African: mostly black bill
Nubicus: less developed lappets, pink head, thighs generally brownish. North Africa.
Negevensis: Middle east, Isreali (Negev Desert), browner and less colourful, greyish face, the skin at the back head is pink, thick down covering the heas (the other two subspecies are bald as adults) - thicker in males than females, small or no lappets, dark brownish thighs, balckish bill.

pg 151 - 152

LPV's behaviour, feeding and interaction with other species of vultures, birds, and mamalian carnivores at carcases:

Most LPVs are seen at carcasses of large animals from impala to elephant in size, and domestic livestock. They come to large carcasses more for social interaction than for feeding

At carcasses of most plains, the "lesser species" must wait for somebody to tear the skin , in comes the LPV and obliges the waiting throng, and then because of its own general lack of interest for a large carcass, it soon wonders away. Other vultures do bebefit when the 'King' behaves in this manner

pg 157

I regret to say the LPV's beak is said to be unable to penetrate extremely large animal carcasses like girrafes to elephants which are intact so the previous source I posted might be exggegeration or might mean the LPV can penetrate through them but with difficulty (however, that beak is still capable of penetrating fresh hide of zebra and wildebeast carcasses) - sorry I did not write that account down Sad.

Lappet-faced vultures have been seen at many other food sources. These include barbel (catfish) 'parties', terrapins nest, and road cassualty of a secretary bird.

Adult and young flamango may be killed at colonies and also flamango eggs, wildebeest placentae and lamb carcasses

Known to accompany springbok haerds in the kalahari when feeding occurs, and to feed on any weak or lost fawns

Hunt for concealed fawns of Thomson's eyewitness of actual predation, although found at freshly dead (warm) Thomson's Gazalle fawns in the Sarengetti, and a Helmeted Guines fowl in Zimbabwe.

Ethopia: brief account of a vulture 'coorporating' with two ravens "killing a hare".

Found on smalll carcases that circumstantially suggests predation (e,g, vervet monkeys, golden jackals, bat-eared foxes, an african wild cat, and a fledgling secretary bird. 
Sometimes an eagle has been nearby, such as an immature martial eagle near the dead vervet monkey, and therefore possible the vulture 'pirated; the remains of an eagle.

pg 158

Both (LPV and WHV) are disdainful of large carcasses: LPVs arrive at them and spend more time socialising, and WHVs may usually find them but rarely take away any food.

pg 268

Rather, we prefer to think that the martial eagle had preyed upon the Vervet Monkey and had the kill 'pirated' by the vultures. It may be that vultures often pirate what an eagle has killed, though surely eagles are very possessive of their kill and can mantle over it with vigour, at a large carcass, vultures are usually dominant over both bateleur and tawny eagles.

pg 269

Adults (LPVs) are frequently in pairs, and one or sometimes both merely leap dramatically at the throng of griffons covering the carcasses.

pg 260

They have been cloaked in straight glides at speeds of 42 to 67 kph.

pg 156

Poison1981 can confirm those and probably post whatever I have missed out on.

kills by impact and immediate tearing by its bill.

pg 158

The LPV has the most massive bill, and indeed most massive among most birds of prey. It is larger than that of the Cinereous vulture.

pg 249

Armed with teeth, a jackal is usually dominant over any single vulture although it keeps a wary eye out on a LPV.

pg 251

LPV and WHV take great exception to the marabaos and may even attack them with vigour. Marabaos dominate those two species on 13 occassions, as opposeed to 19 occassions on reverse.

pg 255

Edit: I forgot which page has this but a LPV is capable of killing prey which wieghs one to 20 kg.
A little more info:
Bare parts: Eyes dark brown. Adult bill pale yellow-horn or greenish-brown to blackish, juvenile blackish-horn to yellowish-grey. Cere pale blue to pale grey-blue, duller on juvenile. Bare skin of adult head pink to purplish-pink, with bluer cheeks, flushing scarlet and purple-blue in excitement; juvenile pale pink (variably covered in down). Adult feet pale blue to blue-grey, juvenile grey-brown.

pg 440 from 'Raptors of the World.

The vulture roosted on top of the rooftop bar at night and was fed daily carcass scraps from the kitchen. In the evening I would go up and watch the sunset with the vulture, taking the opportunity to get a really close look at him (if it was a him). I can remember one of the things that struck me was the size of his gray-blue feet, immensely sturdy with powerful, but not sharp or elongated, talons. It is the beak that the vulture uses to rip into carcasses, not the claws.

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Australia GreenGrolar Offline
Regular Member

Vulture pictured fighting jackal for wildebeest

The moment a giant vulture fought off more than 30 other birds and a jackal to eat a wildebeest has been caught on camera in a series of stunning pictures.

*This image is copyright of its original author

A hungry jackal got more than he bargained for when an enormous Lappet-faced vulture with a 12ft wingspan interrupted his meal in the Serengeti in Tanzania.

The scenes were captured as the Lappet-faced vulture with a 12ft wingspan took control of the dead animal.

The jackal even got the bird of prey's talons in its back as it attempted to pick off some meat.

The other birds and scavengers waited until the huge vulture had flown off before they returned.

Robert Fuller, a British photographer, shot the scenes in the Serengeti in Tanzania.

The 36-year-old was returning from taking photos of the wildebeest migration and cheetah cubs when he spotted dozens of vultures picking over a carcase.
He set up his camera and recorded the carnivorous squabble that followed.
There were over 30 smaller Rüppell's griffon vultures feasting when their enormous counterpart arrived.
It scared them off and then attacked the jackal before returning and eating.
Mr Fuller, from Thixendale, North Yorks, said: "A colleague and I had been photographing a cheetah and her six cubs and were returning when we saw the wildebeest.
"Some hyenas were leaving it and some vultures, mainly Rüppell's griffon vultures with a few white backs, came down to feed.
"Then I saw the Lappet-faced vulture, Africa's largest with a three metre wingspan, overhead and quickly trained my camera on him, waiting for landing shots.
"It soon became clear he was not messing around and flew directly to the kill, right into a heap of 35 vultures.
"As he landed, he managed to get one vulture in each of his talons, another one in his bill, while also flattening four with each wing.
"With the sheer force of his entrance, the vulture had already taken care of 11 rivals and quickly scared off the other 24.
"It ate ferociously before the jackal approached the wildebeest.
"The vulture immediately attacked and dug its talons into the jackal's back and dragged it seven or eight metres through all the other vultures.
"The Lappet-faced vulture then returned to finish its meal and only when it had flown off did the others move back.
"The incident went on for 40 minutes and the noise was incredible."

This is the most aggressive vulture with the largest and strongest beak of all vultures and birds of prey.

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United Arab Emirates BorneanTiger Offline
Senior Member

I know this endangered vulture for a sickening reason: 14 carcasses of this species were found in northern Botswana on the 20th of June, besides those of 468 white-backed vultures, 17 white-headed vultures, 28 hooded vultures, and 10 cape vultures, altogether 537 vultures, besides 2 tawny eagles. It is suspected that they died after eating the carcasses of 3 elephants that were poisoned by poachers, possibly to avoid detection by the birds, which help rangers to track poaching activity by circling above where there are dead animals:,,,
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Australia GreenGrolar Offline
Regular Member

Many of these birds are becoming extinct due to the sickening act of poachers. At least these vultures are friends of the rangers. Thanks for posting that account Borneon tiger :).

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Switzerland Spalea Offline
Wildanimal Lover


A few ruffled feathers at the scavenger summit…

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Switzerland Spalea Offline
Wildanimal Lover

Michael Laubscher: " 1 hyena Vs all the Mara vulture "


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