Vulture in Kenya Description
Vultures are a large, eagle-like bird belonging to the Accipitridae family, of which hawks and eagles are also members. There are a whole range of different species, the most common ones in Kenya being the Egyptian (Neophron percnopterus), hooded (Necrosyrtes monachus) and white-headed vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis). Others include Ruppell’s vulture (Gyps ruppellii), a common nester in Kenya’s Hell’s Gate National Park and also the white-backed vulture (Gyps bengalensis), found in all East African national parks. Vultures prefer savannah country with high concentrations of game.
These large birds, with a wing span of up to three metres and weighing up to five kg, feed almost exclusively by scavenging. They are fairly inefficient fliers and so rely to a large degree on finding rising hot-air thermals on which to glide and ascend. For this reason you won’t see them in the air until well into the morning when the upcurrents have started.
African vultures have no sense of smell and so depend totally on their excellent eyesight, and that of their colleagues, for locating food. Once a kill or a fallen animal has been sighted a vulture will descend rapidly and await its turn at the carcass. Of course other vultures will follow the first downwards and in this chain reaction they may come from as far afield as 50 km. They are very efficient feeders and can rapidly strip flesh from bone, although they are not good at getting a start on a completely intact carcass. A large group of vultures (and they congregate in groups, often of up to 100) can strip an antelope to the bone in half an hour. Because they are poor fliers, however, vultures often cannot fly with a belly full of food and so after urging will retreat a short distance and digest their meal.
Vulture in Kenya – Photo