Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Critically Endangered

Rüppell's Vulture (Gyps rueppelli)


French: Vautour de Rüppell German: Sperbergeier Spanish: Buitre moteado
Other common names: Rüppell's Griffon

Vultur Rueppellii

A. E. Brehm

, 1852,

Khartoum, Sudan


Traditionally thought to form a species-group with G. himalayensis, G. indicus (with tenuirostris), G. coprotheres and G. fulvus. Recent genetic data indicate that present species forms a clade with G. fulvus, and that these two are sister to a clade comprising G. indicus, G. tenuirostris and G. coprotheres#R, an arrangement independently supported by study based on wider molecular sample from additional loci#R. Original description contained two spellings of specific name; present spelling (rueppelli) was selected by First Reviser#R. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. r. rueppelli (A. E. Brehm, 1852) – SW Mauritania and Senegambia E to Sudan and W Ethiopia, and S to Kenya and N Tanzania.
  • G. r. erlangeri Salvadori, 1908 – Ethiopia (except W), Eritrea and Somalia.
  • Descriptive notes

    101 cm; 6800–9000 g, mean 7570 g (one erlangeri 6384 g); wingspan 230–250 cm. Pale tips to contour feathers give scaled appearance (individually variable... read more


    Squealing and squawking calls at carcasses, where dominant individuals also hiss; grating sounds at... read more


    Open sub-Saharan habitats of arid steppe and grassland, at up to 4500 m in Ethiopia; occurs in or... read more

    Food and feeding

    Carrion and bone fragments of larger carcasses, mainly soft muscle and organ tissue. Roosts, soars and feeds communally, fighting with... read more


    Laying usually after long rainy season, but may be triggered by rainfall to fledge young at end of dry season when carrion is most abundant... read more


    No regular movements in most areas, although may wander daily 150–200 km from nesting and... read more

    Status and conservation

    CRITICALLY ENDANGERED. Until 2007 not considered a species of conservation concern, then listed as Near Threatened until 2012; following severe decline in several parts of... read more

    Recommended citation

    Kemp, A.C., Christie, D.A., Kirwan, G.M. & Sharpe, C.J. (2020). Rüppell's Vulture (Gyps rueppelli). 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 26 February 2020).