(The Gist of Science Reporter) Egyptian Vulture-Vanishing Fast  [APRIL-2018]


(The Gist of Science Reporter) Egyptian Vulture-Vanishing Fast

 [APRIL-2018]


Egyptian Vulture-Vanishing Fast

THE Egyptian Vulture is among the best scavengers and Europe’s most threatened vulture species. It is still continuing to decline. If drastic measures are not taken for its protection and conservation, within a few years the condition will get worse. It is a long lived medium-sized raptor feeding upon a large variety of dead animals, including large carcasses, small and medium-size vertebrate and human waste and sometimes hunts for insects, rats and other small aquatic animals. It is distributed throughout southern Europe, northern and central Africa, the Middle East, Transcaucasia, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Neophron p. percnopterus and Neophron p. ginginianus are found in India and are local migratory species. Also called Pharaoh’s Chicken because it is so often seen sculptured on the ancient monuments of Egypt, Egyptian vultures are solitary birds usually seen in pairs and groups at the feeding and roosting sites. Egyptian vultures are thought to be very intelligent. Birds like Lammergeier carry the Ostrich egg, which has a thick shell, into the air and drop it on the ground to break it. But since the Egyptian vultures do not have large feet to raise the egg into the air, they carry the stone into the air and drop it upon the egg in a strong wave of head and neck. This makes them special as only a few animals along with man use tools to achieve their aim.

Egyptian vultures roost or congregate in groups for hours on trees, monuments, electric towers, and buildings imparting benefits such as increased foraging success, decreased predation or danger, decreased thermoregulatory need etc. Egyptian vultures possess a well defined bill which along with feeding purposes they often use for feather maintenance and preening. Bills are important tools for straightening, oiling and removal of dirt and debris of the body surface. They also exhibit allopreening -a behaviour shown by Egyptian vultures in which one individual cleans the feathers of other individual. It has been reported in many animal groups and among other vulture species too such as Turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) and Californian condors (Gymnogyps californianus). It reduces the chance of presence of ectoparasites and sometimes it is a form of intra-social interaction.

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