The Rüppell’s Griffon Vulture (Gyps rueppelli) is a large critically endangered vulture from Africa. They are related to the White-Backed Vulture.
The Rüppell’s Griffon Vulture has mottled brown or black feathers with a whitish-brown underbelly and thin, cream-white fluff covering its head and neck. The base of its neck has a white collar. Its eyes are dark or amber, and its crop patch is deep brown. Its head does not have feathers. It has sharp talons and a powerful dark black.
It grows to 85-103 centimetres (33-40 inches) tall, with a wingspan of 226-260 centimetres (88-100 inches).
It is considered to be the highest-flying bird, flying at an altitude of 6,000-11,300 metres (20,000-37,100 feet) above sea level. However, they are relatively slow, flying at 35 kilometres per hour (22 miles per hour), although they fly for 6–7 hours every day and will fly as far as 150 kilometres (93 miles) from their nest to find food.
The Rüppell’s Griffon Vulture inhabits the Sahel region of Africa, and eastern Africa, especially Kenya, where they can be found in grasslands, mountains, and woodlands.
It is a scavenger, feeding on the carcass (body) of dead animals. It sticks its head inside the body of its prey when eating – and this could be why its head does not have feathers. It also has backward-pointing spikes on its tongue to help it remove meat from the bone of the carcass.
The Rüppell’s Griffon Vulture is very social, roosting, nesting, and gathering to feed in large flocks.
It mates for life (it is monogamous). The male and female work together to build a nest using sticks, grass, and leaves, on cliffs or high ledges. Females lay 1-2 eggs. Both parents sit on the eggs for a period of about 55 days before they hatch. Both parents feed and look after the chicks for about 150 days, until they fledge (gain their flight feathers).
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM