Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Near Threatened

Himalayan Griffon (Gyps himalayensis)


French: Vautour de l’Himalaya German: Schneegeier Spanish: Buitre del Himalaya
Other common names: Himalayan Vulture

Gyps himalayensis

A. O. Hume

, 1869,



Was previously thought to form a species-group with G. indicus (with tenuirostris), G. coprotheres, G. rueppelli and G. fulvus. Sometimes considered a race of G. fulvus, but ranges overlap and plumages distinct; recent study suggested that race fulvescens of latter is closely related to present species. Monotypic.


Himalayas from N Pakistan and N India through S Tibet and Nepal to Bhutan and C China; also NE through Pamirs to Tien Shan, and possibly also into Tarbagatai and Altai. Juveniles may disperse into plains of N India (Rajasthan and Assam)#R.

Descriptive notes

103–110 cm; 8000–12,000 g; wingspan 260–290 cm. Large, pale vulture; largest Gyps; great individual variation in size, with some birds huge.... read more


Usually silent, except near nest and at roost, but especially noisy around carcasses, where... read more


Mountains, gorges, high-elevation steppes, mostly 1500–4000 m, but down to 900 m in Himalayas... read more

Food and feeding

Feeds almost exclusively on carrion. One record of bird eating pine needles in India. Soars and glides over vast areas, searching for... read more


Poorly known. Best information from Xinjiang, China, where about 100 nests found in 10 colonies (5–16 nests each) in 2012 and 2013.... read more


Mostly sedentary, with limited altitudinal movements; a few juveniles straggle S onto plains of N... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. CITES II. Apparently common in W China and throughout Himalayas of Pakistan, India, Tibet and Nepal, e.g.... read more

Recommended citation

Clark, W.S., Boesman, P., Kirwan, G.M., Marks, J.S. & Sharpe, C.J. (2020). Himalayan Griffon (Gyps himalayensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 February 2020).