Why don't vultures take live prey

Birds of prey: vultures

Vultures feed on dead animals - this may not be nice to look at, but it is useful! Without the scavengers, diseases would spread.

The birds of prey are large to very large as vultures (Latin Accipitriformes) referred to, which feed mainly on carrion, i.e. animal carcasses. Today there are different genera of the vulture in several families and subfamilies.

General information about vultures

Worldwide, 23 species of vulture live on four continents, most of them in Africa. Zoologists divide the species into Old World and New World vultures. 16 are considered threatened.

What do vultures eat?

A group of vultures is a natural funeral home. By eliminating dead animals, the large birds of prey keep the environment clean. Vultures are made to live on carrion, that is, decaying meat. Without them, carcasses of buffalo, zebra or elephant would lie around three times longer.

Pathogens that multiply in it could spread to other wild animals such as jackals, then to livestock and finally to humans. It is completely different when vultures devour the meat: the caustic stomach acid of the birds kills bacteria and prevents pathogens from spreading.

The physique of a vulture

Bare neck, fixed gaze - vultures are not among the most beautiful birds. Your physique is extremely useful for this!

  • NECK: Vultures are hardly feathered up to the chest. This means that fewer “leftovers” stick to them.
  • EYES: Above all, the different species of Old World vultures can see very well. From the air they discover carrion from many kilometers away.
  • KROPF: This is what one calls a bulge of the esophagus. Vultures store large amounts of meat in them before digesting them.
  • STOMACH: The corrosive stomach acid kills bacteria. Vultures can therefore eat rotting meat without getting sick.
  • BEAK: With it the vultures tear skin, sinews and flesh. In addition, their tongues have barbs so that they can swallow faster.
  • WING: Thanks to their wide wings, vultures use little energy when gliding. In search of food, they can therefore fly to areas that are larger than Germany.
  • CLAWS: Vultures often walk on the ground. That is why they have flatter feet than other birds of prey, and their claws are less curved.
  • LEAF SPAN: With a wingspan of 1.5 meters, the palm vulture is the smallest species. The wingspan of the Andean condor, on the other hand, is twice as large. The condor weighs up to 15 kilograms.

Offspring and reproduction in vultures

Female vultures only hatch one egg per year. The parents look after the chick together.

How old do vultures get?

In the wild, vultures can live up to 30 years.

Are Vultures Endangered?

The number of vultures is shrinking worldwide. There were once twelve different species in Africa. One of them is already extinct. And seven more are in danger today! The reason for this is always the person. He builds settlements and thus takes the birds' habitat. Or he erects electricity pylons on which the animals injure themselves.

Particular danger lurks in Africa

The scavengers are also mutilated and killed: In South Africa, for example, traders sell vulture's claws and heads as traditional remedies. But: The world's worst vulture killer is poison. Two out of three vultures found dead in Africa have died from it.

The birds are often only accidental victims: cattle herders actually target lions that tear their cattle at night. That is why the shepherds spray the remains of the prey with poison in case the lions return. But the vultures also swallow this bait - or later eat the poisoned lions.

Poachers also keep killing vultures because the birds could betray them. The illegal hunters shoot elephants because they want to sell the valuable ivory. It takes them an hour to remove the tusks from a killed elephant.

But after half the time, vultures are circling over the carcass. So that the poachers are not caught, they ensure that there are fewer and fewer vultures: they poison their prey.

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