Sunday, February 12, 2012

>>Genus Sarcogyps (Red-headed Vulture)

Red-headed Vulture

Red-headed Vulture
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Lesson, 1842
Species:S. calvus
Binomial name
Sarcogyps calvus
(Scopoli, 1786)
Current distribution range of red headed vulture
  • Aegypius calvus
  • Torgos calvus
The Red-headed Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus), also known as the Asian King VultureIndian Black Vulture or Pondicherry Vulture,


Its a medium-sized vulture of 76 to 86 cm (30 to 34 in) in length, weighing 3.5–6.3 kg (7.7–14 lb) and having a wingspan of about 1.99–2.6 m (6.5–8.5 ft). The adult has a prominent deep red to orange naked head and the juvenile being of paler red. It has a black body with pale grey band at the base of flight feathers. The sexes differ in colour of the iris: males have a paler, whitish iris, while in females it is dark brown.

Red headed vulture female atRanthambore

Taxonomy and Systematics

This is a species of Old World vulture found in the Indian Subcontinent. It has no subspecies.

Distribution and Habitat

This gaudy-faced vulture was historically abundant with range over south-central and south-eastern Asiaextending from India to Singapore. Today the range of the Red-headed Vulture is localized primarily to northernIndia. It is usually in open country and in cultivated and semi-desert areas. It is also found in deciduous forests and foothills and river valleys. It is usually found up to an altitude of 3000m from sea level.

Conservation Status

It used to be declining, but only slowly; in 1994 it was uplisted to Near Threatened from Least Concern by the IUCN. The widespread use of the NSAID Diclofenac in veterinary medicine inIndia has caused its population to collapse in recent years, however. Diclofenac is a compound now known to be extremely poisonous to vultures. The population of this species has essentially halved every other year since the late 1990s, and what once was a plentiful species numbering in the hundreds of thousands has come dangerously close to extinction in less than two decades. Consequently it was uplisted to Critically Endangered in the 2007 IUCN Red List. Several NSAIDs have been found to be harmful to scavenging birds. Diclofenac, carprofen, flunixin, ibuprofen and phenylbutazone were associated with mortality. Meloxicam has thus far been found to be "Vulture-Safe" and its use in veterinary treatment of livestock is being encouraged.

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