White-backed vulture

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White-backed vulture
2012-white-backed-vulture.jpg
White-backed vulture in Etosha National Park, Namibia
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Gyps
Species: G. africanus
Binomial name
Gyps africanus
Salvadori, 1865

The white-backed vulture (Gyps africanus) is an Old World vulture in the family Accipitridae, which also includes eagles, kites, buzzards and hawks. It is closely related to the European griffon vulture, G. fulvus. Sometimes it is called African white-backed vulture to distinguish it from the Oriental white-backed vulture—nowadays usually called white-rumped vulture—to which it was formerly believed to be closely related.

The white-backed vulture is a typical vulture, with only down feathers on the head and neck, very broad wings and short tail feathers. It has a white neck ruff. The adult’s whitish back contrasts with the otherwise dark plumage. Juveniles are largely dark. This is a medium-sized vulture; its body mass is 4.2 to 7.2 kilograms (9.3–15.9 lb), it is 78 to 98 cm (31 to 39 in) long and has a 1.96 to 2.25 m (6 to 7 ft) wingspan.[2][3][4]

Like other vultures it is a scavenger, feeding mostly from carcasses of animals which it finds by soaring over savannah. It also takes scraps from human habitations. It often moves in flocks. It breeds in trees on the savannah of west and east Africa, laying one egg. The population is mostly resident.

As it is rarer than previously believed, its conservation status was reassessed from Least Concern to Near Threatened in the 2007 IUCN Red List.[5] In 2012 it was further uplisted to Endangered.[6]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ IUCN Red List 2012.
  2. ^ "White-backed vulture videos, photos and facts - Gyps africanus". ARKive. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  3. ^ Raptors of the World by Ferguson-Lees, Christie, Franklin, Mead & Burton. Houghton Mifflin (2001), ISBN 0-618-12762-3
  4. ^ "African White-backed Vulture". Oiseaux-birds. Retrieved 2011-10-11. 
  5. ^ See BirdLife International (2007a. b).
  6. ^ "Recently recategorised species". Birdlife International (2012). Retrieved 15 June 2012. 

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