For a red-headed vulture found in America, please refer to the Turkey Vulture. These two vultures look alike in many ways, but the Turkey Vulture has an ivory-colored beak, while the South Asian Red-headed Vulture has a black beak.
The Red-headed Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus), also known as the Asian King Vulture, Indian Black Vulture or Pondicherry Vulture, is a species of Old World vulture found in South Asia.
Up to 85 cm (34 in) long and weighing 3.7-5.4 kg (8.2-11.9 lbs), this gaudy-faced vulture was historically abundant with range over south-central and south-eastern Asia extending from Pakistan to Singapore. Today the range of the Red-headed Vulture is localized primarily to Nepal and northern India where it is found in open country and in cultivated and semi-desert areas.
It used to be declining, but only slowly; in 1994 it was uplisted to Near Threatened from Least Concern by the IUCN. The widespread use of the NSAID Diclofenac - a compound now known to be extremely poisonous to vultures - in veterinary medicine in India has caused its population to collapse in recent years, however. The population of this species has essentially halved every other year since the late 1990s, and what once was a plentiful species numbering in the hundreds of thousands has come dangerously close to extinction in a mere decade-and-a-half or so. Consequently it is uplisted to Critically Endangered in the 2007 IUCN Red List.
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