Wednesday, 27 November 2013

139. Lappet-faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotus)

Lappet-faced Vultures are classed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, as only a small and declining population remains. Like several vulture species, they have fallen victim to accidental poisoning, whereby the vultures (being carrion eaters) eat the carcasses of livestock predators which have been poisoned by farmers to protect their livestock. Sometimes the vultures are targeted directly too in the mistaken belief that they predate livestock - when actually they perform a valuable service by clearing up all the carrion that would otherwise be lying around making a right mess. They are widespread but scarce in sub-Saharan Africa, and also occur rarely in parts of north Africa and the Middle East. Their preferred habitat is arid mountainous desert. In flight they look similar to Cinereous Vulture but with more 'bulging' secondaries, paler throat and legs, and striped underparts. They hold their wings quite flat, sometimes curved slightly downwards at the tips.

Lappet-faced Vulture, ©tong1217, via Flickr Creative Commons.
Lappet-faced Vulture painting.

This is a great photo showing the shape of this vulture in flight! The 'bulging' secondaries and saw-toothed (rather than rounded) feather tips are really clear. Alas I appear to have given my vulture one wing each from 2 different birds - that left one is way too small!

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