Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)


Lappet-faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotos)


French: Vautour oricou German: Ohrengeier Spanish: Buitre orejudo

Vultur Tracheliotos

J. R. Forster

, 1796,

#R Great Namaqualand, South Africa


Usually considered sufficiently distinctive to merit a monospecific genus, but sometimes lumped into Aegypius; was even considered to form a superspecies with Aegypius monachus. Variation appears to be largely individual and clinal, and validity of races thus questionable; nubicus perhaps better treated as an intermediate form#R. Original spelling and date/citation have long been disputed, but there is no evidence that the claimed 1791 edition ever existed#R#R; misquoted spelling “tracheliotus” (with -us ending) may have arisen from defective printing on p. 362 (although discernible as “-os”), but clearly printed as -os on plate. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. t. tracheliotos (J. R. Forster, 1796) – S Mauritania E to Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, S to Namibia, N South Africa and Swaziland; extinct in NW Africa (SW Morocco, Western Sahara).
  • T. t. nubicus (H. Smith, 1829) – SE Egypt and N Sudan.
  • T. t. negevensis Bruun et al., 1981 – Arabian Peninsula; extinct in S Israel.
  • Descriptive notes

    115 cm; 5400–9400 g, mean 6780 g; wingspan 280 cm. Very large, although size often exaggerated: in E Africa, averages considerably lighter (6200 g) than sympatric G... read more


    Generally silent, and less vocal than Gyps species. High, fast chatter or yelp... read more


    Steppe and desert, where isolated flat-topped trees provide nest-sites; also extends into more... read more

    Food and feeding

    Carrion, skin and bone fragments from large and small carcasses; takes up to 1450 g in one meal. Mainly scavenges. Credited with killing... read more


    Laying usually in dry season: Oct–Jan in W Africa, Dec–Feb in NE Africa and Middle East, Feb–Jul in E Africa, Apr–... read more


    No regular movements described, except for W Africa, where apparent shift N during the rains and S... read more

    Status and conservation

    ENDANGERED. CITES II. Small and declining population facing variety of threats. Estimated global population at minimum of 8500 individuals (approximately 5700 mature... read more

    Recommended citation

    Kemp, A.C., Christie, D.A. & Sharpe, C.J. (2020). Lappet-faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotos). 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 19 February 2020).