Cape Vulture - one of South Africa's biggest raptors

Cape Vulture / Cape Griffon

Afrikaans name: Kransaasvoël

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Close-up of a Cape Vulture in captivity

Photo © Steven Herbert

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A captive Cape Vulture

Cape Vulture

Photo © Steven Herbert

Gyps coprotheres

The Cape Vulture is a large bird that can have a wingspan of 2.5 metres or more. It is endemic to the southern Africa region and is most common in South Africa, Lesotho and Botswana.

The number of breeding pairs drops each year which has caused the IUCN to set its status as Endangered. There are numerous reasons for its decline including poisoning, habitat loss, use of body parts in traditional medicine and less farm livestock dying because of modern farming practices.

The Cape Vulture breeds and roosts on cliffs but during the day they often travel large distances in search of food. As with many species of vulture they have excellent eye-sight and keep a lookout for carcasses on the ground plus the behaviour of other distant vultures to see if they have located food.

They nest in colonies on cliff faces. The female is normally responsible for making the nest which is mainly made of sticks, twigs and grass. Although two eggs are sometimes laid it is most common that she only lays one. Both parents feed the chick which can take around 5 months before being ready to leave the nest.

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