- Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2012. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.7. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
Sub-Saharan Africa: all S of Sahara south to N Namibia, N South Africa except forest area.
A medium-sized, brownish vulture
All dark bill and marked contrast between the underwing-coverts and flight feathers from below.
Habitat and Ecology
Movements and dispersal
Life History and Behavior
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Gyps africanus
There are 2 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank. Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species. See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Gyps africanus
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
The species occurs in a number of protected areas thoughout its range. A press release was circulated in July 2007 to raise awareness of the impacts of hunting for medicinal and cultural reasons in southern Africa (McKean and Botha 2007). In 2007, a survey began to establish the extent of diclofenac use for veterinary purposes in Tanzania (BirdLife International 2007), and in 2008 an awareness-raising campaign at a conference of the World Organisation for Animal Health in Senegal led to a resolution being adopted unanimously by more than 160 delegates to "request Members to consider their national situation with the aim to seek measures to find solutions to the problems caused by the administration of diclofenac in livestock" (Woodford et al. 2008, C. Bowden in litt. 2008).Conservation Actions Proposed
Establish a monitoring network for African vultures. Establish legal protection for the species in range states. Raise awareness amongst pastoralists of the dangers of using poisons for pest control. Eliminate the veterinary use of diclofenac and other toxic drugs in Africa. Limit the hunting of game to improve the availability of carrion. Carry out education and awareness programmes, particularly targetted at farmers, to reduce persecution, unintentional poisoning and hunting for cultural reasons.
The White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) is an Old World vulture in the family Accipitridae, which also includes eagles, kites, buzzards and hawks. It is closely related to the European Griffon Vulture, G. fulvus. Sometimes it is called African White-backed Vulture to distinguish it from the Oriental White-backed Vulture—nowadays usually called White-rumped Vulture—to which it was formerly believed to be closely related.
The White-backed Vulture is a typical vulture, with only down feathers on the head and neck, very broad wings and short tail feathers. It has a white neck ruff. The adult’s whitish back contrasts with the otherwise dark plumage. Juveniles are largely dark. This is a medium-sized vulture; its body mass is 4.2 to 7.2 kilograms (9.3–16 lb), it is 78 to 98 cm (31 to 39 in) long and has a 1.96 to 2.25 m (6 to 7 ft) wingspan.
Like other vultures it is a scavenger, feeding mostly from carcasses of animals which it finds by soaring over savannah. It also takes scraps from human habitations. It often moves in flocks. It breeds in trees on the savannah of west and east Africa, laying one egg. The population is mostly resident.
As it is rarer than previously believed, its conservation status was reassessed from Least Concern to Near Threatened in the 2007 IUCN Red List. In 2012 it was further uplisted to Endangered. In 2013 it is further uplisted to Critically Endangered.
- IUCN Red List 2012.
- "White-backed vulture videos, photos and facts - Gyps africanus". ARKive. Retrieved 2011-05-31.
- Raptors of the World by Ferguson-Lees, Christie, Franklin, Mead & Burton. Houghton Mifflin (2001), ISBN 0-618-12762-3
- "African White-backed Vulture". Oiseaux-birds. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
- See BirdLife International (2007a. b).
- "Recently recategorised species". Birdlife International (2012). Retrieved 15 June 2012.
- "15 bird species in India in critically endangered list". The Hindu. Retrieved 26 Nov 2013.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Gyps africanus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- BirdLife International (2007a): 2006-2007 Red List status changes. Retrieved 2007-AUG-26.
- BirdLife International (2007b): White-backed Vulture - BirdLife Species Factsheet. Retrieved 2007-AUG-26.
- Gill, F & D Donsker (Eds). 2013. IOC World Bird Names (v 3.3) www.worldbirdnames.org Taxonomy of raptors