Sunday, February 12, 2012

>>Genus Torgos (Lappet-faced Vulture)

Lappet-faced Vulture

Lappet-faced Vulture
At Rio Grande Zoo, New Mexico, USA
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kaup, 1828
Species:T. tracheliotos
Binomial name
Torgos tracheliotos
(Forster, 1791)
Torgos tracheliotus
The Lappet-faced Vulture or Nubian Vulture (Torgos tracheliotos) is a mostly African Old World vulture belonging to the bird order Accipitriformes, which also includes eagleskites,buzzards and hawks. It is the only member of the genus Torgos. A distinct subspecies T. t. negevensis occurs in the Sinai, the Negev desert, and probably north-west Saudi Arabia. It is not closely related to the superficially similar New World vultures, and does not share the good sense of smell of some members of that group.


The Lappet-faced Vulture is about 95–115 cm (37–45 in) in body length, with a wingspan of 2.5–3 m (8–10 ft). Wild vultures, of the subspecies T. t. tracheliotus, range from 4.4 to 9.4 kg (9.8-20.7 lb) and, in East Africa, average only 6.2 kg (13.6 lb).On the other hand, captive vultures of the larger T. t. negevensis subspecies, weighed 6.5-9.2 kg (14.3-20.2 lb) in males and 10.5-13.9 kg (23.1–30.6 lb) in females.
Like many vultures, it has a bald head. The pink (sometimes reddish) coloration is a distinctive feature. The head is bald, because a feathered head would become spattered with blood and other fluids, and thus be difficult to keep clean.


Perching in a tree in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
The Lappet-faced Vulture is a scavenging bird, feeding mostly from animal carcasses, which it finds by sight or by watching other vultures. Large carcasses, since they provide the most subsistence at a sitting, are preferred. Lappet-faced Vultures, perhaps more than any other vulture, will on occasion attack young and weak living animals and raid the nests of other birds. Locally, Lesser Flamingoes, among others, have been reported to be culled by Lappet-faces in this way.
They are the most powerful and aggressive of the African vultures, and other vultures will usually cede a carcass to the Lappet-faced Vulture. This is often beneficial to the less powerful vultures because the Lappet-face can tear through the tough hides and muscles of large mammals that the others cannot penetrate, although hyenas are even more efficient in this regard.

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