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Rüppell's Vulture
Gyps rueppellii

Status: Critically endangered

Population Trend: Declining.

Other Names: Rueppell's Griffon, Ruppell's Griffon, Rüppell's Griffon, Ruppell's Vulture.

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Gyps rueppellii
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Distribution: Afrotropical. Southwestern MAURITANIA and southern Arabia south to northern TANZANIA; vagrants occur farther north (northwestern Africa and Iberian Peninsula) and south (ZIMBABWE, SOUTH AFRICA). more....

Subspecies: 2 races. G. r. erlangeri: Highlands of ETHIOPIA, ERITREA, and northwestern SOMALIA, and possibly southern ARABIA; G. r. rueppellii: Southwestern MAURITANIA and SENEGAMBIA east to SUDAN, north to northwestern NIGER and south to UGANDA, KENYA, and northern TANZANIA.

Taxonomy: Based on molecular sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene, Wink (1995) found that the genera Gyps and Necrosrytes forms a sister clade to a group containing the genera Aegypius, Sarcogyps, Torgos, and Trigonoceps. Wink and Sauer-Gürth (2000) found that G. rueppellii and G. himalayensis form a closely related monophyletic group with G. coprotheres and G. fulvus, based on nucleotide squences of the cytochrome b gene. The molecular studies of Johnson et al. (2006) supported a sister relationship between this species and the Eurasian Griffon, G. f. fulvus, with that clade being sister to another clade consisting of the Long-billed Vulture (G. indicus), Slender-billed Vulture (G. tenuirostris) and the Cape Vulture (G. coprotheres). more....

Movements: Irruptive or local migrant and also an altitudinal migrant in some areas (Bildstein 2006). Mostly sedentary, but apparently wanders beyond its usual range more often than the African White-backed Vulture, as vagrants have shown up in Spain and other northern areas withy increasing frequency in recent years. Numbers of this species increase markedly in the northern Sahel during the short rains (July-August), and these birds return to the southern Sahel during the drier months from September to December (Thiollay 1978).

Habitat and Habits: Forages in open savanna and semi-arid country and nests in adjacent montane areas and deep gorges. Generally roosts and nests on cliffs, but also on large trees in a few areas. Very gregarious and can occur in large numbers at kills. more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Strictly a carrion feeder. This species follows game herds on their seasonal migrations and feeds in large numbers at carcasses, usually with other vulture species. Individuals defending their space are often very aggressive.

Breeding: Nests in large colonies on cliffs in most portions of its range. Although tree-nesting by this species was dismissed by Brown (1970), Brown et al. (1982), and Mundy et al. (1992), this behavior has been reported from West Africa by several authors, including de Naurois (1962), Morel and Morel (1990), and Barlow et al. (1997). In the latter case, the birds nested in Borassus Palms (Borassus aethiopum) along the Gambia River in loose colonies with the African White-backed Vulture. Rondeau et al. (2006) reported more documented instances of tree-nesting in W National Park, southern Niger and discussed this behavior in detail. more....

Conservation: Widespread in in the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa. Recent alarming declines of this species throughout its range led to a change of its global status from Near Threatened to Endangered by BirdLife International in 2012 and further uplisted to "Critically Endangered" in 2015. Thiollay (2006) reported a decline of 96% in its main breeding range in central Mali between the 1970s and 2004 outside of protected areas. more....

Population Estimates: Prior to the recent reports of drastic population declines in some regions, Verdoorn (2004) estimated the global population at around 30,000 individuals.

Important References: 
Brown, L.H., E.K. Urban, and K. Newman. 1982. The birds of Africa. Vol. 1.
  Academic Press, London.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Kemp, A.S. 1994. Rüppell's Griffon. P. 127 in del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott,
  and J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New World
  vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain, Spain.
Mundy, P.J., J.A. Ledger, and R. Friedman. 1992. The vultures of Africa.
  Academic Press, London.
Verdoorn, G.H. 2004. Rüppell's Griffon Gyps rueppellii. Pp. 12-14 in A.
  Monadjem, M.D. Anderson, S.E. Piper, and A.F. Boschoff (eds.), The vultures
  of southern Africa -- quo vadis? Birds of Prey Working Group, Johannesburg,
  South Africa.

Sites of Interest:
Rüppell's Vulture photos.

Camina, Alvaro
Johnson, Jeff A.
Kendall, Corinne
Rondeau, Guy
Virani, Munir

Last modified: 2/5/2016

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Rüppell's Vulture Gyps rueppellii. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 30 May. 2020

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