DID YOU KNOW?
The Cape griffon or Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres) is an Old World vulture in the family Accipitridae, which also includes eagles, kites, buzzards and hawks. It is endemic to southern Africa, and is found mainly in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana and in some parts of northern Namibia. It nests on cliffs and usually lays one egg per year.
This young vulture is dark brown except for the pale wing coverts. The adult is paler than the juvenile, and its under-wing coverts can appear almost white at a distance. The average length is about 1 m (3.3 ft) with a wingspan of about 2.57 m and a body weight of 9.29 kg (21 lb). They are on average the heaviest raptor in Africa, although the Lappet-faced vulture has a larger wingspan.
The species is listed by the IUCN as Vulnerable with the major problems it faces being poisoning, disturbance at breeding colonies, drowning in water reservoirs and electrocution.
Some Interesting Facts About Vultures
- A group of 50 vultures can reduce the carcass of a sheep or impala to skin and bones in 20 minutes.
- Vultures feed on carrion (dead carcasses) and do not kill their own prey. Their feet are weak and better suited to walking on the ground than to picking up prey.
- Vultures are actually very hygienic birds and large groups often gather around favorite water holes to bathe, preen and drink.
What are the Largest of the World’s 22 Vulture Species
- Cape Griffon Vulture: Mass 9.29kg, wingspan 2.57m
- Lappet Faced Vulture: Mass 6.60kg, wingspan 2.64m
- Californian Condor: Mass 10.10kg, wingspan 2.79m
- Andean Condor: Mass 11.70kg, wingspan 2.99m
The Cape Griffon Vulture
- Has the smallest distribution of any Old World vulture – southernmost 12 percent of Africa.
- Longevity is unknown but REST estimates it to be 50-70 years.
- Only 20 percent of immature birds may survive until adulthood.
- Age at first breeding is 7 years.
- Breeding success is estimated at 60 percent.
- Both adults incubate what is usually one egg. REST research has shown the male doing most of the incubation. The egg takes 53-57 days to hatch.
- Nestlings take 140 days to fledge.