Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Critically Endangered

White-headed Vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis)


French: Vautour à tête blanche German: Wollkopfgeier Spanish: Buitre cabeciblanco

Vultur occipitalis


, 1824,

Matlowing River, Botswana


Usually considered sufficiently distinctive to merit monotypic genus, but sometimes placed in Aegypius with Sarcogyps calvus, A. monachus and Torgos tracheliotos. Monotypic.


Senegambia E to Eritrea (including Dahlak Archipelago), Ethiopia and Somalia, then S to N Namibia, NE South Africa and Swaziland.

Descriptive notes

72–85 cm; 3300–5300 g, mean 4260 g; wingspan 207–230 cm. Pied plumage, angular head, high neck ruff and bright facial colours notable. Chunky, with heavy... read more


Chattering calls heard when competing at carcasses with other vultures, but otherwise silent.


Dry woodland, thornbush and tree savanna, generally not extending into drier steppe or denser... read more

Food and feeding

Carrion and bone fragments from carcasses large and small, perhaps more usually the latter in the form of roadkills, reptiles, etc. ... read more


Laying usually in dry season: Oct–Jan in W & NE Africa (where season lasts until Jun); all months in E Africa, depending on... read more


No regular movements of adults reported, even in W Africa. Adult pairs apparently sedentary within... read more

Status and conservation

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED. CITES II. Very large range, but small and rapidly declining population. Not considered of conservation concern until 2007, then listed as Vulnerable... read more

Recommended citation

Kemp, A.C., Kirwan, G.M., Christie, D.A. & Sharpe, C.J. (2019). White-headed Vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis). 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 12 December 2019).