Vulture, lappet-faced

Torgos tracheliotos


The largest of all African vultures with a breath-taking 2.8 m wing span. The lappet-faced vulture is a solitary bird which lives in dry savanna, thornbush and deserts that have isolated trees for nesting, resting and roosting. It has a conspicuous pink-skinned heavy head with a huge bill that it uses for tearing through the hind of thick skinned carcases.

conservation status : Vulnerable
length : 80 to 115 cm
weight : 4.5 to 8.5 kg
wing span : Up to 2.8 m
life span : 20 to 50 years
clutch : 1 egg
incubation : 55 days

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With a wing span of up to 2.8m and a body length of over 1 m the lappet-faced is the largest vulture in Africa.

A lappet-faced vulture can quickly tuck away 1.5 kg in its crop (a sock-like storage chamber) so that it can consume the food away from the carcass.

The lappet-faced vulture is so named because of the fleshy folds on its neck known as lappets.

Lappet-faced vultures will hang around the edges of a carcass to wait for the feeding frenzy to finish. It will then move in and finish off the tough skin, tendons and ligaments left by the other birds.

Often other vultures have to wait for the arrival of the lappet-faced as it is the only bird that can open the carcass of some thick skinned animals.

Lappet-faced vulture eggs take 2 days to hatch.

Lappet-faced vultures have been known to prey on live animals including small mammals and flamingos.

A lappet-faced vulture will defend its carcass against scavengers like jackals.