Recognising the Six Vulture Species of South Africa

Vultures play a essential function in sustaining the steadiness of the environment. They’re nature’s cleanup crew, scavenging and disposing of animal stays that would in any other case turn out to be breeding grounds for illness. By swiftly recycling natural matter, Vultures assist stop the unfold of sicknesses that would have an effect on each people and animals.

Vulture species of South Africa

Sadly, the Vulture species of South Africa, are uncovered to all kinds of threats which embody poisoning, habitat degradation, inhabitants fragmentation, restricted protected meals availability, human disturbance, in addition to vitality infrastructure collisions and electrocutions.

Of the six Vulture species that happen in South Africa, all are both Susceptible, Endangered, or Critically Endangered. At present, as we recognise Worldwide Vulture Consciousness Day, we’d wish to share extra about every of those unbelievable species to encourage additional assist and safety of those distinctive birds. 

Introducing the Vulture Species of South Africa:

White-Headed Vulture  (Trigonoceps occipitalis)

IUCN Pink Record Standing: Critically Endangered

Estimated Breeding Pairs in South Africa: 80-100

*no nests recorded in KZN since 2017

White-Headed Vulture facts

The White-Headed Vulture is a particular vulture species, with their white heads and pink necks contrasting in opposition to their darkish, feathered our bodies. They’re roughly 78–82 cm tall with a wingspan of over two metres, weighing roughly 3.3 to five.3kg.

These Vultures are normally discovered solitary or in monogamous pairs. Most nests are present in Acacia bushes and one egg is laid at a time, nonetheless 61% of pairs don’t breed yearly resulting from nonetheless having a dependent chick from the earlier 12 months.

Vulture species of South Africa - White-Headed Vulture

In 2000, White-headed Vultures had been listed as Susceptible within the Pink Knowledge E-book. In 2015, their standing was uplifted to ‘Critically Endangered’, which was maintained upon the newest evaluation in 2021. Considerably, following Vulture nest surveys throughout the province of KwaZulu-Natal in 2021, conservation organisations Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Wildlife ACT confirmed the localised extinction of breeding White-Headed Vultures.

Hooded Vulture  (Necrosyrtes monachus)

IUCN Pink Record Standing: Critically Endangered

Estimated Breeding Pairs in South Africa: 50-100

Hooded Vulture facts

The Hooded Vulture is aptly named for the distinctive black hood of feathers that covers their head and neck. Their darkish plumage contrasts with its pale, featherless face, which is particularly tailored for its feeding habits.

This comparatively small Vulture usually weighs between 1.5 to 2.6kg and has a wingspan of round 160cm. As a consequence of their smaller dimension, Hooded Vultures are capable of rise on thermal currents simply which frequently makes them among the many first arrivals at close by carcasses. 

Vulture species of South Africa - Hooded Vulture

Hooded Vultures kind monogamous pairs, with one egg laid per breeding season and an incubation interval of 48-54 days. Chicks are dependent for across the first seven months of their lives.

African White-Backed Vulture  (Gyps africanus)

IUCN Pink Record Standing: Critically Endangered

Estimated Breeding Pairs in South Africa: 4000

African White-Backed Vulture facts

African White-Backed Vultures are medium in dimension, standing at round 94cm excessive and weighing between 4-7kg. They’re mild brown to cream in color with juveniles being a barely darker and deeper brown. 

These Vultures are tree-dwellers, mostly present in open wooded savanna and bushveld. They’re scavengers of carrion and aggressive feeders, however can even hunt when the necessity arises. 

Vulture species of South Africa - White-Backed Vulture

With regards to breeding, White-Backed Vultures are predominantly monogamous and can typically nest in small colonies in scattered bushes a number of hundred metres aside. One egg is laid and can hatch after a interval of roughly 58 days, following which, each mother and father look after the chick for as much as six months. 

Lappet-Confronted Vulture  (Torgos tracheliotos)

IUCN Pink Record Standing: Endangered

Estimated Breeding Pairs in South Africa: 180

*solely 2-6 nests in KZN

Weighing in at as much as 9kg and standing at 110cm tall, the Lappet-Confronted Vulture is the most important and strongest of the Vulture species of South Africa. Though they’re typically outnumbered by smaller species such because the African White Backed Vulture, they’re essentially the most dominant at a carcass throughout feeding. 

The Lappet-Confronted Vulture has a wingspan of between 2.5-2.9m, making it unmissable when hovering above. This species is notable for its reddish-coloured neck and bald head, in addition to its dark-coloured feathers. 

Vulture species of South Africa - Lappet-Faced Vulture

The Lappet-Confronted Vulture lives both in solitude or in monogamous pairs and can breed every year. Females turn out to be sexually mature at round six years of age and can sometimes solely lay one egg per breeding season. Following an incubation interval of round 55 days, chicks will stay depending on mother and father till they’re 5-6 months outdated. 

Cape Vulture  (Gyps coprotheres)

IUCN Pink Record Standing: Susceptible

Estimated Breeding Pairs in South Africa: 4500

Cape Vulture Facts

The Cape Vulture is southern Africa’s solely endemic vulture species. These vultures previously bred in Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Namibia, however are actually extinct in Swaziland, with solely small, non-breeding populations remaining in Zimbabwe and Namibia.

This species has a reasonably large wingspan of as much as 2.6m and sometimes weighs from 7 to 11 kg. They’re distinguished by their naked blue-coloured necks and cream-coloured plumage with darkish brown feathers. 

Vulture species of South Africa - Cape Vulture

Cape Vultures have a possible lifespan of over 30 years. They’re cliff dwellers and reside in colonies with massive, prolonged households. They’re monogamous breeders and lay one egg per breeding season. It’s estimated that there are 4,500 breeding pairs remaining in southern Africa, with about 20% of the overall inhabitants residing within the Maloti-Drakensberg mountains.

Bearded Vulture  (Gypaetus barbatus)

IUCN Pink Record Standing: Critically Endangered

Estimated Breeding Pairs in South Africa: 50 to 100 breeding pairs in South Africa and Lesotho

Bearded Vulture Facts

The Bearded Vulture has skilled a drastic decline through the previous century, which has resulted in an remoted inhabitants restricted to the Maloti-Drakensberg mountain vary. Apparently, they’re the one recognized vertebrate with a weight-reduction plan that consists of virtually simply bone. 

With adults weighing in at 6kgs, a wingspan of two.6 metres, putting plumage, crimson eyes and lengthy, diamond-shaped tails, it’s straightforward to see how these stunning birds acquired the title ‘Monarchs of the Mountains’.

Vulture species of South Africa - Bearded Vulture

Bearded Vultures are cliff nesters, choosing rocky ledges. They lay one or two eggs throughout winter, with hatchlings being depending on the mother and father for as much as two years. 

In contrast to most Vultures, the Bearded Vulture doesn’t have a bald head, making it higher geared up for cooler climates. This hen is a spectacular sight in its personal proper, in addition to an important part of the surroundings, performing an important ecological function as a scavenger.

Help the trigger

Please assist to assist the essential work being achieved to guard the Vulture species of South Africa HERE.

To be taught extra about how one can get entangled, please contact Wildlife ACT’s Vulture Programme Supervisor on

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