Cape vulture

(Gyps coprotheres)




Facts about this animal

The total length is 99 to 104 cm. The head and the neck are covered with sparse white down. Bare skin is bluish. The neck-ruff is pale greyish buff. Upperparts of the body and wings are pale buff or stone colour which contrasts with dark spots along trailing edge of the wing-coverts and dark flight-feathers. Underparts are cream to light stone colour, uniform, and darkest on the belly. The crop-patch is dull brown surrounded by white down. The tail is black and the legs are grey. The bill is brown. Sexes are alike and about equal size.

Did you know?
that Cape vultures are efficient scavengers, working together to cover large areas searching for carrion? But this cooperation may be their undoing however as large numbers are sometimes killed feeding on carcasses poisoned by local farmers to control leopard and jackal.


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Gyps coprotheres
Name (English) Cape vulture
Name (French) Vautour chassefiente
Name (German) Kapgeier
Name (Spanish) Buitre de El Cabo
Local names Afrikaans: Krans-aasvoƫl
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Appendix II (as Accipitridae spp.)



Photo Copyright by
Martin Harvey



Range Southern Africa
Habitat Usually found near mountains, but flies long distances over open country in search for food. Breeds and roosts on cliffs.
Wild population 8,000-10,000 (2006) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 114 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Cape vulture


How this animal should be transported

Untrained birds travel better in completely dark boxes, with a carpeted floor and roof, with an upwards sliding door at one end and no perch. As a general rule, trained birds are easier to manage in boxes with a carpeted perch at the right height to give plenty of head and tail room, and with a hinged side opening door.


For air transport, Container Note 20 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Martin Harvey

Why do zoos keep this animal

Cape vultures are kept for various reasons: they are of educational interest, in Southern Africa, they are bred under a regional coordinated breeding programme, injured or intoxicated birds are rehabilitated or, if they can no more be returned to the wild, may be kept for animal welfare reasons.