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Egyptian Vulture
Neophron percnopterus

Status: Endangered

Population Trend: Declining.

Other Names: Scavenger Vulture, Small White Scavenger Vulture, White Vulture.

Neophron percnopterus
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Distribution: Afrotropical/Indomalayan/Palearctic. Southern Europe to central Asia, northern INDIA and NEPAL south through Africa to NAMIBIA, TANZANIA, and ANGOLA; CANARY and CAPE VERDE ISLANDS, SOCOTRA. more....

Subspecies: 3 races. N. p. ginginianus: NEPAL and INDIA (except for northwestern portion); N. p. majorensis: CANARY ISLANDS; N. p. percnopterus: Southern Europe east to central Asia and northwestern INDIA, south through northern AFRICA to northern TANZANIA, southwestern ANGOLA, and northwestern NAMIBIA; CAPE VERDE IS; SOCOTRA. more....

Taxonomy: Amadon and Bull (1988) suggested that this species is not a true vulture and that its closest relative is the Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus. Based on the nucleotide sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene, Wink (1995) and Seibold and Helbig (1995) confirmed the existence of a Neophron-Gypaetus clade, which is separate and basal to other Old World vultures. This finding is in agreement with karyological (De Boer and Sinoo 1994), morphological (Jollie 1976), and embryological data (Thaler et al. 1986). The studies of Lerner and Mindell (2005), based on molecular sequences from one nuclear and two mitochondrial genes, also confirmed that Gypaetus barbatus and Neophron percnopterus are sister species, forming a clade, Gypaetinae, which includes the Palm-nut Vulture (Gypohierax angolensis) and the Madagascar Serpent Eagle (Eutriorchis astur). Although each species is highly divergent the others genetically, they are still more closely related to each other than to other accipitrine species. more....

Movements: Partial migrant (Bildstein 2006). European and northern African populations of the nominate race are migratory, but populations breeding on the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, Cape Verde Islands, Socotra, and Masira Island, on the Arabian Peninsula, and those on the Indian subcontinent are sedentary. All of the birds breeding in Greece depart from Europe via the Bosphorus, and only stragglers fly south over the Cyclades and Crete (Vaglano 1984, Handrinos 1985, Magioris 1987). This species is also an altitudinal migrant in some areas. more....

Habitat and Habits: In most parts of its range, this species inhabits arid woodlands and semi-arid bush country, especially canyons and rocky areas, often near villages and along roads. Usually occurs singly or in pairs, less commonly in small groups, and rarely in large groups of more than 100. Soars low in search of food. Roosts on cliff faces or in dead trees and is rarely found far from nesting cliffs. Less wary and more tolerant of humans than other vultures, at least in Armenia (Adamian and Klem op cit.). more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: This species is an "indiscrimnate and opportunistic feeder" (Snow 1978). It feeds on large carcasses with other vulture species and scavenges for trash around human settlements. It attends kills, but is not able to feed until the larger, more dominant vulture species have finished. It hunts for food while soaring at a high altitude or perching on rocks. In many parts of its range, this species also eats the eggs of large bird species, including those of ostriches, flamingos, and pelicans. Larger eggs are broken with the use of stones, or they are picked up and thrown on the ground. Fecal matter, insects, and other invertebrate prey are also frequently taken. more....

Breeding: Solitary nester, although it sometimes nests in loose colonies (Handrinos 1985) or with other vultures, e.g., Eurasian Griffon Vultures (Flint 1984). Builds a rough stick nest lined with grass, wool, animal hairs, and other material and placed on a rock ledge, in a cave or hole, dirt bank, or, rarely, in a tree. Clutch size is 1-3 eggs (mostly 2 in Africa), which have a white ground color and a heavy suffusion of reddish-brown pigment. The incubation period is 39-45 days in Israel (Shirihai 1996) and 42 days in Armenia (Gavashelishvili 2005), and both sexes share incubation. The nestling period was reported as 70-90 days in Armenia and 69-90 days in Israel. more....

Conservation: The Egyptian Vulture was formerly fairly common and widespread in most portions of its range in Europe, Asia, and the arid parts of Africa north of the equator, but it has recently declined greatly in its former range in parts of western Europe (Tucker and Heath 1994), Indian subcontinent (Cuthbert et al. 2006), West Africa (Rondeau and Thiollay 2004, Thiollay 2006), and southern Africa (Anderson 2000, Mundy 2000), apparently from multiple causes, including poisoning, electrocution, collisions with wind turbines, and human persecution (shooting). This species was recently uplisted to "Endangered" by BirdLife International, based primarily on the reported population crashes in India and West Africa. more....

Population Estimates: The European population was estimated at 2,900-7,200 breeding pairs (BirdLife International 2000) and later at 3,500-5,600 breeding pairs (BirdLife International/European Bird Census Council 2004). The population size of resident birds in Africa was estimated at 20,000 individuals by Mundy et al. (1992), and the Palearctic population of N.p. percnopterus, excluding Africa, was estimated at 3,500 pairs by BirdLife International (2004); numbers in both regions are now much lower. No recent population estimate of the Asian race, N.p. ginginianus, is available. more....

Important References: 
Anderson, M.D. 2000. Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus. P. 20 in K.N.
  Barnes (ed.), The Eskom Red Data Book of birds of South Africa, Lesotho and
  Swaziland. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg.
BirdLife International/European Bird Census Council. 2000. European bird
  populations: estimates and trends. BirdLife Conservation Series no. 10.
  BirdLife International,Cambridge, UK.
Brown, L.H., E.K. Urban, and K. Newman. 1982. The birds of Africa. Vol. 1.
  Academic Press, London.
Cuthbert, R., R.E. Green, S. Ranade, S. Saravanan, D.J. Pain, V. Prakash,
  and A.A. Cunningham.
2006. Rapid population declines of Egyptian Vulture
  (Neophron percnopterus) and Red-headed Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus) in
  India. Animal Conservation 9:349-354.
Donázar, J.A. 2004. [Egyptian Vulture, Neophron percnopterus]. In A.
  Madrońo, C. González, and J.C. Atienza (eds.), [Red Book of the birds of
  Spain]. Dirección General para la Biodiversidad, SEO-BirdLife, Madrid,
  Spain. (In Spanish)
Donázar, J.A., J.J. Negro, C.J. Palacios, L. Gangoso, J.A. Godoy, O.
  Ceballos, F. Hiraldo, and N. Capote.
2002. Description of a new subspecies
  of the Egyptian Vulture (Accipitridae: Neophron percnopterus) from the
  Canary Islands. Journal of Raptor Research 36:17-23.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Mundy, P.J., J.A. Ledger, and R. Friedman. 1992. The vultures of Africa.
  Academic Press, London.
Naoroji, R. 2006. Birds of prey of the Indian subcontinent. Christopher
  Helm, London.
Orta, J. 1994. Egyptian Vulture. Pp. 125-126 in del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott,
  and J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New World
  vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Mundy, P.J. 2000. The status of vultures in Africa during the 1990s. Pp.
  151-164 in R.D. Chancellor and B.-U. Meyburg (eds.), Raptors at
  risk. World Working Group on Birds of Prey, Berlin, and Hancock House,
  Blaine, WA.
Van Lawick Goodall, J., and H. van Lawick Goodall. 1966. Use of tools by
  the Egyptian Vulture, Neophron percnopterus. Nature 212:1468-1469.

Current Research: Ivaylo Angelov is intiating a study on the distribution, population, and limiting factors for migrant Egyptian Vultures on the Red Sea coast of Sudan. This area formerly supported high densities of vultures, but all species, including the Egyptian, have declined dramatically. A team of German researchers recorded over 60 electrocuted Egyptian Vultures during three visits to Port Sudan in 1982-83 and 2005, and a single 10-km stretch of powerline there could be a significant factor in the decline of the species. Angelov's study is being conducted under the auspices of Bulgarian BirdLife and the Sudanese Wildlife Society (source: Bulletin of the African Bird Club 17:148. 2010).

Sites of Interest:
Organization is devoted to captive breeding, reintroduction, and monitoring of the Egyptian Vulture.
LPO Mission Rapaces, Vautour Percnoptčre
The League for the Protection of Rare and Threatened Species of Birds in France have focused their conservation efforts on birds of prey including the Egyptian Vulture.
Egyptian Vulture photos.
Pyrénées Vivantes
Egyptian Vultures in the Pyrenees.
Species account, with an emphasis on European populations.

Agostini, Nicolantonio
Angelov, Ivaylo
Bohra, Dr. Dau Lal
Camina, Alvaro
Demerdzhiev, Dimitar
Dhakal, Hemanta
Dobrev, Dobromir
Kendall, Corinne
Khadka, Bidur
Margalida, Antoni
Öztürk, Yasemin
Ragyov, Dimitar
Simmons, Rob
Soni, Hiren
Soni, Khemchand
Teli, Janki
Yotsova, Tsvetomira
Zuberogoitia, Ińigo

Last modified: 2/5/2016

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2022. Species account: Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 23 Jan. 2022

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