Deep Dive: Himalayan Vulture

by OBDK on September 05, 2022

Himalayan Vultures, or Himalayan Griffon Vultures, are a species of Old World vultures and are similar in size to the Cinereous Vulture. Their heads have down feathers that are white if they’re young, and off-white or yellowish if they’re adults. The feathers on their wings are brown with some white markings. Under their wings, there’s a streak of lighter-colored feathers.1 They are found in the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau.2

They stand about 3-4 feet tall and have a wingspan of around 9 feet, as Cinereous Vultures have. They usually live to be between 20 and 35 years old. These vultures are active during the daytime and tend to be solitary.3

When they mate, they are monogamous.3 They create nests on cliffsides and lay one egg. They’ll usually breed at the beginning of the year, in January.1 They’ll breed anywhere from almost 2,000 to over 14,000 feet up.3 When the offspring is born, they’ll rely on their parents for about half a year.1

Himalayan Vultures eat carrion and they tend to go after large animals, like cattle.2 Most of their diet is yak.1 They are usually the birds in charge at feeding sites, but they’ll yield to other animals like wolves, leopards, and Cinereous Vultures.1&3

These vultures are considered to be Near Threatened by the IUCN.2 While their population seems to be stable, they do face a threat from a drug called diclofenac, which is an NSAID, an anti-inflammatory drug that’s often given to livestock. When the birds ingest it from a carcass, it causes major health problems.3

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