Old World vultures are vultures that are found in the Old World, i.e.
the continents of Europe,
Asia and Africa, and which belong to the
family Accipitridae, which also includes eagles, buzzards, kites, and
Old World vultures are not closely related to the superficially
similar New World vultures and condors, and do not share that group's
good sense of smell. The similarities between the two groups of
vultures are due to convergent evolution rather than a close
relationship. They were widespread in both the
Old World and North
America, during the Neogene.
Old World vultures are probably a
polyphyletic group within Accipitridae, with palm-nut vulture,
Egyptian vulture and
Bearded vulture separate from the others. Most
authorities refer to two major clades:
Gypaetinae and Aegypiinae
(Aegypius, Gyps, Sarcogyps, Torgos,
Trigonoceps and possibly
Necrosyrtes). The former seem to be nested with
Perninae hawks, while
the latter are closely related and possibly even synonymous with
Aquilinae. Within Aegypiinae, Torgos, Aegypius,
Trigonoceps are particularly closely related and possibly within the
same genus. 
Old World and New World vultures are scavenging birds, feeding
mostly from carcasses of dead animals.
Old World vultures find
carcasses exclusively by sight. A particular characteristic of many
vultures is a semi-bald head, sometimes without feathers or with
simple down. Historically, it was thought that this was due to feeding
habits, as feathers would be glued with decaying flesh and blood.
However, more recent studies have shown that it is actually a
thermoregulatory adaptation to avoid facial overheating; the presence
or absence of complex feathers seems to matter little in feeding
habits, as some vultures are quite raptorial. 
2 Population Declines, Threats, and Implications
2.1 Population Declines
2.2.2 Other poisoning
2.2.3 Traditional medicine
3 Conservation efforts
5 External links
Common and binomial names
High mountains in southern Europe, the Caucasus, Africa, the Indian
subcontinent, and Tibet
Forest and savannah across sub-Saharan Africa
Europe and northern
Africa to India
Southwestern and central Europe, Turkey, the central Middle East,
northern India, central and east Asia
Mountains in southern Europe, north
Africa and Asia
Northern and central India, Pakistan, Nepal,
Bangladesh and southeast
Sahel region of central Africa
Central and peninsular India
Sub-Himalayan regions of
India and into Southeast Asia
Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau
Savannahs of west and east Africa
The Indian Subcontinent, with small disjunct populations in Southeast
Sub-Saharan Africa, the
Negev deserts and north-west Saudi
† = extinct
Population Declines, Threats, and Implications
More than half of old world vulture species are listed as vulnerable,
endangered, or critically endangered by the IUCN Red List.
Population declines are caused by a variety of threats that vary by
species and region, with most notable declines in
Asia due to
diclofenac use. As vultures play an important role in ecosystems,
their population decline can have cultural, public health, and
economic implications for communities.
Diclofenac poisoning has caused the vulture population in
Pakistan to decline by up to 99%, and two or three species of vulture
Asia are nearing extinction. This has been caused by the
practice of medicating working farm animals with diclofenac, which is
a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) with anti-inflammatory
and pain-killing actions.
Diclofenac administration keeps animals that
are ill or in pain working on the land for longer, but, if the ill
animals die, their carcasses contain diclofenac. Farmers leave the
dead animals out in the open, relying on vultures to tidy up.
Diclofenac present in carcass flesh is eaten by vultures, which are
sensitive to diclofenac, and they suffer kidney failure, visceral
gout, and death as a result of diclofenac poisoning.
Meloxicam (another NSAID) has been found to be harmless to vultures
and should prove an acceptable alternative to diclofenac. The
India banned diclofenac, but over a year later, in 2007,
it continued to be sold and remains a problem in other parts of the
Poisoning accounts for a majority of vulture deaths in Africa. Ivory
poachers poison carcasses with the intent of killing vultures, since
vultures circling over a carcass alert authorities to a kill. Vultures
are also unintentionally poisoned when they consume carcasses of
predators that have been poisoned by livestock farmers.
Africa are killed for use in traditional medicine. Vulture
heads are believed to provide clairvoyance.
As vultures play an important role in ecosystems, their population
decline can have cultural, public health, and economic implications
The decline in vultures has led to hygiene problems in
carcasses of dead animals now tend to rot, or be eaten by rats or wild
dogs, rather than be consumed by vultures.
Rabies among these
other scavengers is a major health threat.
India has one of the
world's highest incidences of rabies.
For communities such as the Parsi, who practice sky burials in which
human corpses are put on the top of a
Tower of Silence
Tower of Silence , vulture
population declines can have serious cultural implications.
A project named "
Vulture Restaurant" is underway in
Nepal in an effort
to conserve the dwindling number of vultures. The "restaurant" is an
open grassy area where naturally dying, sick, and old cows are fed to
^ Lerner & Mindell 2005.
^ (Griffiths et al. 2007, Lerner and Mindell 2005)
^ a b Mundy, P. et al. 1992. The Vultures of Africa, Academic Press.
^ a b Wilber, S. & Jackson, J. 1983.
Vulture Biology and
Management, University of California
^ (Ward et al. 2008)
^ "AnimalDiversityWeb: Aegypius: Classification".
AnimalDiversity.ummz.umich.edu. Retrieved 2011-05-28.
^ a b c d Ogada, Darcy L.; Keesing, Felicia; Virani, Munir Z.
(2012-02-01). "Dropping dead: causes and consequences of vulture
population declines worldwide". Annals of the New York Academy of
Sciences. 1249 (1): 57–71. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.06293.x.
^ a b c "Painkillers turned bird killers". New Scientist.
No. 2577. 2006-11-14. p. 7.
^ a b Elizabeth Royte (2015-12-10). "Vultures Are Revolting. Here's
Why We Need to Save Them". National Geographic Magazine. Retrieved
^ a b Madeline Bodin (2014-08-11). "Africa's Vultures Threatened By An
Assault on All Fronts". Yale Environment 360. Retrieved
^ a b Dooren, Thom van (2010). "Vultures and Their People in India:
Equity and Entanglement in a Time of Extinctions". Manoa. 22 (2):
130–146. ISSN 1527-943X.
^ Di Quinzio & McCarthy 2008.
^ Haviland, Charles (2008-07-31). "Nepal's 'restaurant' for vultures".
BBC News. Retrieved 2011-05-28.
^ A vulture restaurant in South
Africa Archived December 27, 2008, at
the Wayback Machine.
Di Quinzio, M.; McCarthy, A. (2008-02-26). "
Rabies risk among
travellers". CMAJ. 178 (5): 567. doi:10.1503/cmaj.071443.
Ferguson-Lees, James; Christie, David A. (2001). Raptors of the World.
Illustrated by Kim Franklin, David Mead, and Philip Burton. Houghton
Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-618-12762-7. Retrieved 2011-05-26.
Grimmett, Richard; Inskipp, Carol; Inskipp, Tim (1999). Birds of
India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the
Maldives. Illustrated by Clive Byers et al. Princeton University
Press. ISBN 978-0-691-04910-6. OCLC 43578307.
Lerner, Heather R. L.; Mindell, David P. (November 2005). "Phylogeny
Old World vultures, and other
Accipitridae based on nuclear
and mitochondrial DNA" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.
37 (2): 327–346. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2005.04.010.
ISSN 1055-7903. PMID 15925523. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
Sinclair, Ian; Hockey, Phil; Tarboton, Warwick (2002). SASOL Birds of
Southern Africa. Illustrated by Peter Hayman & Norman Arlott (3rd
ed.). Cape Town: Struik. ISBN 978-1-86872-721-6.
Bird groups hopeful on vultures". London: BBC News. 2006-02-06.
Gentleman, Amelia (2006-03-28). "India's Vultures Fall Prey to a Drug
in the Cattle They Feed On". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
Nair, Preetu (2009-05-09). "Rare breed of vulture spotted in Goa after
eight years". Times Of India. Retrieved 2011-05-29.
Indian birds.com: videos, photographs and resources
Publico.pt: A griffon vulture nest
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Accipitridae.
Cathartidae (New World vultures)
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Lesser yellow-headed vulture
Lesser yellow-headed vulture (
Greater yellow-headed vulture
Greater yellow-headed vulture (
American black vulture (Coragyps atratus)
King vulture (Sarcoramphus papa)
California condor (Gymnogyps californianus)
Andean condor (Vultur gryphus)
Madagascan serpent eagle
Madagascan serpent eagle (Eutriorchis astur)
Palm-nut vulture (Gypohierax angolensis)
Madagascan harrier-hawk (
African harrier-hawk (
Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus)
Bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus)
Accipitridae: Gypinae (
Old World vultures)
Red-headed vulture (
White-headed vulture (
Cinereous vulture (
Lappet-faced vulture (
Hooded vulture (
White-rumped vulture (
Himalayan vulture (
White-backed vulture (
Rüppell's vulture (
Griffon vulture (
Indian vulture (
Slender-billed vulture (
Cape vulture (