Gyps rueppelli


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Gyps rueppelli
Species Authority: (Brehm, 1852)
Common Name(s):
English Rüppell's Vulture, Ruppell's Vulture, Rüppell's Griffon Vulture, Rueppell's Griffon
French Vautour de Rüppell
Gyps rueppellii
Taxonomic Notes: Gyps rueppelli (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously listed as G. rueppellii.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2abcd+3bcd+4abcd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2012-06-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Barlow, C., Bowden, C., Dowsett, R., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Genero, F., Pomeroy, D., Thiollay, J., Virani, M., Wolstencroft, J., Jama, A., Hall, P., Kendall, C., Ogada, D. & Brouwer, J.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Bird, J., Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Ndang'ang'a, P., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.
This species has declined severely in parts of its range and overall it is suspected to have undergone a very rapid decline owing to habitat loss and conversion to agro-pastoral systems, declines in wild ungulate populations, hunting for trade, persecution, collision and poisoning. These declines are likely to continue into the future. For this reason it has been uplisted to Endangered.

2012 Endangered

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Gyps rueppelli occurs throughout the Sahel region of Africa from Senegal, Gambia and Mali in the west to Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia in the east. Also south through the savanna regions of East Africa in Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique. Formerly abundant, the species has experienced extremely rapid declines in much of its range, particularly West Africa. Although in Gambia it is apparently stable (C. Barlow in litt. 2006), comparative data have shown some colonies in Mali (J. M. Thiollay in litt. 2006) and South Sudan (Nikolaus 2006) have declined by up to 96% and 100% respectively, and it may no longer occur in Nigeria (no sightings in 2011 in last stronghold of Yankari Game Reserve, nor anywhere else in the country, P. Hall in ltt. 2011). Surveys of the Sudano-Sahelian savannas of Burkino Faso, Mali and Niger, carried out in 1969-1973 and 2003-2004, indicate a drop in the species's abundance from 61.3 birds/100 km to 2.5 birds/100 km (Rondeau and Thiollay 2004). It has also declined in Cameroon (87% decline 1973-2000, Thiollay 2001) Uganda (D. Pomeroy in litt. 2006), Kenya (M. Virani in litt. 2006), Somalia (A. Jama in litt. 2011), Malawi (gone from Kasungu and Liwonde National Parks, where previously common, L. Roxburgh in litt. 2011) and Tanzania (J. Wolstencroft in litt. 2006), but may be stable in Ethiopia (Nikolaus 2006). Since the 1990s there has been a series of records involving small numbers of individuals in Spain and Portugal; these are believed to have crossed the Strait of Gibraltar with migrating G. fulvus, but breeding is not yet known to have taken place in Iberia. Now largely confined to protected areas throughout its range.

Algeria; Benin; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Côte d'Ivoire; Djibouti; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Mali; Mauritania; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Senegal; Somalia; South Sudan; Sudan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Uganda
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Egypt; Portugal; Sierra Leone; Spain; Zambia
Present - origin uncertain:
Saudi Arabia
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Mundy et al. (1992).

Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It frequents open areas of Acacia woodland, grassland and montane regions, and it is gregarious, congregating at carrion, soaring together in flocks and breeding mainly in colonies on cliff faces and escarpments at a broad range of elevations. It locates food entirely by sight.

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species faces similar threats to other African vultures, being susceptible to habitat conversion to agro-pastoral systems, loss of wild ungulates leading to a reduced availability of carrion, hunting for trade, persecution and poisoning. In East Africa, the primary issue is poisoning (particularly from the highly toxic pesticide carbofuran), which occurs primarily outside protected areas; the large range sizes of this and G. africanus puts them both at significant risk as it means they inevitably spend considerable time outside protected areas (Ogada and Keesing 2010, Otieno et al. 2010, Kendall and Virani in press). In addition, the ungulate wildlife populations on which this species relies have declined precipitously throughout East Africa, even in protected areas (Western et al. 2009). In 2007, diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug often used for livestock, and which is fatal to Gyps spp. when ingested at livestock carcasses, was found to be on sale at a veterinary practice in Tanzania (BirdLife International 2007). In addition, it was reported that in Tanzania, a Brazilian manufacturer has been aggressively marketing the drug for veterinary purposes (C. Bowden in litt. 2007) and exporting it to 15 African countries (BirdLife International 2007). The West African population has been heavily exploited for trade, with birds commonly sold in fetish markets (Rondeau and Thiollay 2004, Nikolaus 2006). For example, the Dogon of central Mali climb the Hombori cliffs to take eggs and chicks of this species (Rondeau and Thiollay 2004). The decline and possible extirpation in Nigeria appears to be entirely attributable to the trade in vulture parts for traditional juju practices (P. Hall in litt. 2011). It is apparently also captured for international trade. In 2005, 30 birds were reportedly confiscated by the Italian authorities (F. Genero in litt. 2005). Disturbance, especially from climbers, is a particular problem for this species. In Mali, the Hombori and Dyounde massifs are dotted with at least 47 climbing routes, on which expeditions take place every year, mainly during the species's breeding season. However, the impact of these activities is not known (Rondeau and Thiollay 2004).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
This species occurs in a number of protected areas across Africa. It was included in a CITES Significant Trade Review. In 2007, a survey began to establish the extent of diclofenac use for veterinary purposes in Tanzania (BirdLife International 2007), and in 2008 an awareness-raising campaign at a conference of the World Organisation for Animal Health in Senegal led to a resolution being adopted unanimously by more than 160 delegates to "request Members to consider their national situation with the aim to seek measures to find solutions to the problems caused by the administration of diclofenac in livestock" (Woodford et al. 2008, C. Bowden in litt. 2008).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Establish legal protection for this species, particularly in West Africa. Monitor remaining populations including at colonies, perhaps through a pan-African monitoring mechanism (Rondeau and Thiollay 2004). Conserve remaining populations within protected areas. Protect breeding colonies. Maintain remaining wild ungulate herds within protected areas. Raise awareness amongst pastoralists of the dangers of using poisons for pest control. Discourage the use of diclofenac for veterinary purposes in countries where this does not already take place (BirdLife International 2007). Lobby governments to outlaw the marketing and sale of diclofenac for veterinary purposes (BirdLife International 2007).

Citation: BirdLife International 2014. Gyps rueppelli. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 31 August 2015.
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