Wild Birds

White-backed Vultures (Gyps africanus)

The White-backed Vultures, (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 the African White-backed Vulture to distinguish it from the Oriental White-backed Vulture–nowadays usually called Indian White-rumped Vulture–to which it was formerly believed to be closely related.


This is a medium-sized vulture; its body mass is 4.2 to 7.2 kilograms (9.3–16 lb), it is 94 cm (37 in) long and has a 218 cm (86 in) wingspan.

The White-backed Vultures 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.

Diet / Feeding

Like other vultures it is a scavenger, feeding mostly on carcasses of animals that it finds by soaring over the 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.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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