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

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.

Lappet-faced vulture eggs take 2 days to hatch.

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 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.

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

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