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Bearded Vulture

IUCN Status Globally: Near threatened (NT)

Status in Pakistan: Declining due to Habitat Degradation

Scientific Name: Gypaetus barbatus

Family: Accipitridae of Old World Vultures

Order: Accipitriformes

Class: Aves

Population Trend: Decreasing

This species of vultures is commonly known as Lammergeier, the bearded vulture. They are frequently found in the mountainous terrains and open ranges of Pakistan.  Hilly regions of Africa, Southern Europe and Asia have a fair number of these vultures.
The Bearded vulture is close to 4 feet in size from head to tail, its wingspan is almost 8 feet and it weighs about 5-7 kgs. Their head is roofed with reddish yellow or white plumage and breast with a grey black tail and wings. In the mature individual the black band over the eyes and the spikes at the base of the beak form the distinctive look of a beard. The white color of the neck and underneath parts of imprisoned birds as opposed to the reddish plumage of wild ones remained mysterious for many years, until it was discovered that wild birds intentionally put iron oxide on their plumage. When captive birds were offered iron-rich water they happened to bathe in it as they do in the wild and plumage went reddish once again.

Like every other vulture it is a scavenger, feeding mostly on dead animals. It usually scorns the actual meat, however, and lives on a diet that is 85-90% bone marrow. These species dont hesitate hunting in the wild, they hunt for especially tortoises which are targeted depending on their local abundance. Tortoises hunted may be nearly as large as the predating vulture. When killing tortoise, Bearded Vultures also fly to some elevation and throw them to split open the large reptiles solid shells.
Moderately outsized, healthy numbers seem to occur in some parts of the Himalayas. The Bearded Vulture is locally vulnerable.  It naturally occurs in less concentration, with anywhere from merely a dozen to 500 pairs now being found in each peak ranges in Eurasia where they breeds. The species is a good number in Ethiopia, where an estimated 1,400 to 2,200 are believed to breed. Declines these days are typically due to poisons left out for carnivores, habitat deprivation, turbulence of nests, reduced food supplies and accidents with high power transmission lines. It was previously mistreated in noteworthy numbers since people feared that it frequently carried off kids and domestic animals. This species has also been hunted for a trophy. However, regardless of the declines, the species undoubtedly occupies a big range and, as such, it is listed as least concern on the IUCN Red List. Probably less than 10,000 pairs exist in the wild globally.

References: World Wildlife http://www.worldwildlife.org

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