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African vultures2.jpg
White-backed vulture, Gyps africanus, (r)
Rüppell's griffon vulture, Gyps rueppellii (l)
Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Subkingdom Bilateria
Branch Deuterostomia
Phylum Information
Phylum Chordata
Sub-phylum Vertebrata
Infraphylum Gnathostomata
Class Information
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Aves
Sub-class Neornithes
Infra-class Neoaves
Order Information
Order Accipitriformes
Sub-order Accipitres
Family Information
Superfamily Accipitroidea
Family Accipitridae
Sub-family Aegypiinae
Population statistics

Aegypiinae is a subfamily of birds of prey of the family Accipitridae, consisting of six genera and thirteen species of vulture found over much of Africa, Europe, and Asia.


The Old World vultures range in size from 37 to 44 inches in length, with wingspans up to 8.9 feet. They possess a head and neck devoid of feathers, replaced instead with a light, thin down, enabling them to reach well inside animal carcasses without matting their feathers with blood. They have weak feet, adapted for walking rather than killing prey. Their wings are large and broad, which they use for effortless soaring. Eyesight is powerful in all species, and they can locate a carcass up to a mile away.

Old World vultures are found generally in the tropics, with a few species ranging into temperate zones. They are open-country birds, spending hours aloft soaring on thermal updrafts to locate a dead or dying animal; when found a large flock will quickly gather, often from miles away. A social order takes place on the carcass, with the birds bearing the largest size feeding first, followed by the smaller birds. All give way, however, to any mammal scavenger who comes upon the carcass, such as hyenas and jackals.

Old World vultures build nests, usually large, and sometimes in large colonies, laying a single egg.


  • Subfamily Aegypiinae
    • Genus Aegypius
Eurasian black vulture, Aegypius monachus
    • Genus Gyps
Cape griffon vulture, Gyps coprotheres
Griffon vulture, Gyps fulvus
Himalayan griffon vulture, Gyps himalayensis
Long-billed vulture, Gyps indicus
Rüppell's vulture, Gyps rueppelli
Slender-billed vulture, Gyps tenuirostris
White-backed vulture, Gyps africanus
Indian white-rumped vulture, Gyps bengalensis
    • Genus Necrosyrtes
Hooded vulture, Necrosyrtes monachus
    • Genus Sarcogyps
Red-headed vulture, Sarcogyps calvus
    • Genus Torgos
Lappet-faced vulture, Torgos tracheliotus
    • Genus Trigonoceps
White-headed vulture, Trigonoceps occipitalis


Several species of African vultures are classified as vulnerable or endangered by the ICUN, with a large part[1] of the blame due to the poisoning of animal carcasses that were originally meant to control lion, hyena, or other predation on livestock[2][3]. Diclofenac, for example, an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat cattle, nearly wiped out three Asian species[4]. In a more ominous turn, poachers have recognized the fact that circling vultures will alert game wardens to the their presence, and will lace the carcasses with lethal amounts of poison such as strychnine, cyanide, or concentrated insectacides in a deliberate mass-killing[5][6]. In June, 2019 a estimated 547 vultures were found dead near three elephant carcasses in Botswana, with well over 400 of them the critically-endangered white-backed vulture (Gyps africanus)[7][8].