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Torgos tracheliotus

warning Regionally Extinct

The Lappet-faced Vulture is classified as Regionally Extinct (RE). The extinction process occurred in the 1990s and no nesting attempts have been recorded since. (Lone individuals can be seen occasionally, probably originating in the Arabian Peninsula.) In the previous edition of the Red Book (2002), it was classified as Regionally Extinct (RE).
RE Current Regional Assessment | RE Previous Regional Assessment | EN World Assessment

Habitats Desert Plains, Acaicia Savanna
Presence In Israel Resident
Nesting In Israel Past Breeder
Migration Types Resident
Zoography Zones Saharo-Arabian, Sudano-Zambezian
Landscape Formations Plains & Valleys, Wide Wadis
Vegetation Formations Trees
Vegetation Densities Low
Nest Locations Tree
Diet Types Carrion
Foraging Grounds Ground
Body Sizes Large (over 1000g)
Threat Factors Direct Persecution

The Lappet-faced Vulture is the largest raptor in our region. Plumage is dark brown overall, and head and neck are bald and grey. The breast is light brown, and its legs and cere are grey with a bluish or pinkish hue. Its head is wide and square and its beak is very large. Its wings are long and broad with seven or eight long “fingers”. The wing trailing edge is serrated and wavy, with a sharp transition from the secondaries to the primary feathers. Unlike gregarious vultures, it usually lives alone or in pairs, although in the past there have been sightings of ten or even twenty birds around a carcass in the Arava Valley. The Lappet-faced Vulture feeds on large carcasses, frequently together with other vulture species. Unlike the Egyptian Vulture and the Griffon Vulture, it does not feed at garbage dumps. At the carcass, it has first rights, relative to Egyptian and Griffon vultures. Moreover, it hunts small animals such as rodents. Remains of hares and Egyptian Mastigures were found in its nests.

Until the 1950s, 25-30 pairs of Lappet-faced Vultures nested in the Arava and the Negev. The last nest in the Western Negev was recorded in 1966 in the Nitsana-Shivta area. In 1973, 11 pairs nested in the Arava and the wadis running into it. The number decreased to four pairs in 1980 and to a single pair in 1986-1989. The last nest was recorded in 1989 in the Yotvata area. A pair remained in the Sde Boker area until 1993. Lone individuals are still seen occasionally in Israel every few years, probably originating from the Arabian Peninsula population.

Inhabits desert steppes and broad wadis with scattered acacia trees, on which the large nest is built.

Hunting and trapping: at least eight Lappet-faced Vultures were found shot in the 1950s and 1960s, and at least seven were collected and smuggled into European zoos in the 1970s. The population was presumably also impacted by other disturbance factors such as poisoning, electrocution, lack of food and human disturbances at the nest (Leshem 1984, Shirihai 1996).

A number of Lappet-faced Vultures are held at a captive breeding nucleus, but for the past two decades there has been no successful reproduction.

The Lappet-faced Vulture became extinct as a breeder in Israel in the early 1990s. The probability of the species returning to nest in Israel naturally is low, because the closest population of the subspecies breeds in Saudi Arabia, and it is also declining. The Lappet-faced Vulture could be reintroduced to nature in Israel by a reintroduction project that includes captive breeding, food provision and protection of nesting sites, but the chances of its success are doubtful because of the accelerated development in the southern Negev and the Arava in recent years.

  • הצופה, א. ומירוז, א. 2015. תכנית אב לשימור העופות הדורסים בישראל. מסמך פנימי של רשות הטבע והגנים.
  • פז, ע. 1986. עופות. מתוך אלון, ע. (עורך), החי והצומח של ארץ ישראל. כרך 6. הוצאת משרד הביטחון, ישראל.
  • Leshem, Y. 1984. The rapid population decline of the Israel 's lappet-faced vulture, pp. 41-46. In: International zoo. Yearbook 23, Ed. P.J.S. Olney, The Zoological Society of London .
  • Shirihai, H., 1996. The Birds of Israel. Academic Press, London.
  • Symes, A. 2013. Species generation lengths. Unpublished, BirdLife International.
  • Species page at Birdlife International

Distribution maps

The maps presented here provide visual information on the distribution of species in Israel in the past and present, and the changes in occupancy and nesting density during the comparison period. For further reading

Relative Abundance 2010-2020

Breeding density values as calculated from observation records and expert opinions.

Relative Abundance 1980-1990

Breeding density values are based mainly on the book Birds of Israel (Shirihai 1996).

Occupancy difference 1990-2020

A map that expresses differences in the breeding distribution between the evaluation periods (1980-1990 versus 2010-2020). Negative value - species previously present but is currently absent, positive value - species has not been recorded previously and is currently present, zero - no change in occupancy.

Relative abundance difference 1990-2020

A map that reflects the changes in the relative abundance of the species between the evaluation periods (1980-1990 versus 2010-2020). Negative values - decline in abundance, positive values - increase in abundance, zero - no change in abundance.

Red number

IUCN category

() districts
% of protected sites

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