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.
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.
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.
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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