Saturday, 1 February 2014

Lunch Al Fresco - Vulture Style

Lunch Al Fresco - Vulture Style
13 January 2014

    Along the road between Dodola and Goba, Ethiopia, we came across the spectacle shown below. Wherever one travels in Ethiopia one sees huge numbers of donkeys, generally of a very small race, being used as beasts of burden for every manner of cargo imaginable, often bearing loads which would seem impossible for so small an animal. I suspect that the lives of these creatures are neither long nor pleasant and one had obviously perished at the side of the road.
   Three species of vultures were feeding on it, Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus, White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus and Rüppell's Vulture Gyps rueppelli. As can be seen in the picture below, the small Hooded Vulture has to wait its turn on the periphery before darting in to snatch whatever morsels it can before being driven off by the larger, more aggressive species.

    It was quite incredible to see the sheer strength of the neck muscles of the large vultures. As they thrust into the carcass they were able to lift the head of the dead donkey clear off the ground.

    No doubt, within a relatively short time the carcass would be reduced to nothing but bones. Too bad a Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus would not be in an urban environment to take advantage of it.
    Waiting patiently off to the side, anxious for a place at the table, was a Marabou Stork Leptoptilos crumenifer and several Pied Crows Corvus albus.


  1. Gruesome to look at but pretty essential recycling taking place David? Africa is an exciting continent, you must have enjoyed every minute of your trip.

    Speke Airport became Liverpool Airport became Liverpool John Lennon Airport - all one and the same.

  2. Ironically, Phil, I did not find it especially gruesome. There was no noticeable odour from the carcass, so I assume it was relatively fresh and was perhaps initially opened up by a dog or other creature.

  3. Beautiful pictures of the vultures, beautiful to photograph.

    Groetjes Tinie

  4. Impressive!!.. Great series!!!.. Congrats..