Vultures in India

About the Species: Vultures are sociable creatures and are often seen as a collective unit. Out of 23 species of vultures in the world, nine are found in India.
Vultures in IndiaConservation Status:
  • IUCN
  • White rumped vulture (Critically Endangered)
  • Slender billed vulture (Critically Endangered)
  • Long billed vulture (Critically Endangered)
  • Red headed vulture (Critically Endangered)
  • Egyptian vulture (Endangered)
  • Himalayan Griffon (Near Threatened)
  • Cinereous vulture (Near Threatened)
  • Bearded vulture (Near Threatened)
  • Griffon Vulture (Least Concern).
  • CITES: Appendix II
  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I

Habitat: The preferred habitats of the Vulture are deserts, savannas and grassland near a water source. It also inhabits open mountain ranges up to 3,000 metres above sea level.

Distribution: Vultures are widely distributed, but they are absent from Australia and most oceanic islands


  • Vultures are medium- to large-sized birds of prey. They are known for eating carrion (the bodies of dead animals).
  • Heavy body, a hunched-over stance, and their feathers often appear shaggy and looser than other birds.
  • A dull brown or black body.
  • Baldhead and sometimes bald throat (help in regulating their body temperature)
  • Broad wings are very broad compared to other birds. This helps them when they are soaring the skies searching for food.
  • Behaviour: They soar in circles high above the Earth’s surface. They use the rising air currents to maintain their elevation.
  • Food habits: Most of the vultures have very broad food habits. They will consume carrion, garbage, and even excrement. But rarely they prey upon live animals. A few occasionally take helpless prey such as lambs and tortoises or newborn calves.


  • Poison: Vultures feed on the deceased carcasses of many different animals. But larger herbivores such as cattle, deer, and similar animals are their most common food source. If those animals are contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, medication, or other toxins, vultures can be severely affected.
  • Lead Poisonings
  • Persecution
  • Vehicle Collisions
  • Electrocution
  • Starvation


Their habit of eating carrion is extremely beneficial to humans. As it has a considerable effect on reducing the spread of diseases. Some of which can be fatal.

Conservation Initiatives:

National Board for Wildlife(NBWL) has approved an Action Plan for Vulture Conservation 2020-2025. Key highlights of the plan include,

  • Vulture Conservation Centre: Uttar Pradesh, Tripura, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu will get a vulture conservation and breeding centre.
  • Vulture Safe zone: Establishment of at least one vulture-safe zone in each state for the conservation of the remnant populations in that state.
  • Rescue Centres: Establishment of four rescue centres, in Pinjore (Haryana), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Guwahati (Assam) and Hyderabad (Telangana). There are currently no dedicated rescue centres for treating vultures.
  • Toxic Drugs: A system to automatically remove a drug from veterinary use if it is found to be toxic to vultures with the help of the Drugs Controller General of India.
  • Vultures Census: Coordinated nationwide vulture counting involving forest departments, the Bombay Natural History Society, research institutes, nonprofits and members of the public. This would be for getting a more accurate estimate of the size of vulture populations in the country.
  • Database on Threats to Vulture: A database on emerging threats to vulture conservation including collision and electrocution, unintentional poisoning.
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