Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over 10 years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in 10 years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The European population is estimated at 32,400-34,400 pairs, which equates to 64,800-68,800 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Approximately 10% of the global range for this species falls within Europe, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 648,000-688,000 mature individuals. It is placed in the band 500,000-999,999 mature individuals.
The population is increasing in its European range (BirdLife International 2015) and re-introductions have taken place in France. The central Asian population is suspected to be stable. Populations in North Africa and Turkey are suspected to be in decline owing to persecution, shooting, poisoning and loss of suitable food owing to changing farming practices. However, the overall population trend is suspected to be increasing.
Behaviour Some birds are migratory, overwintering in Africa, although many others are resident or nomadic (del Hoyo et al. 1994). It relies heavily on soaring flight, and has been shown to fly at altitudes of 10,000 m and higher. Birds hunt alone but congregate at food sources and roosts; they also tend to migrate singly, but concentrations (usually up to 15 individuals) form at sea crossings and strong thermals (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Habitat It is a species of expansive open areas in a wide array of environments, from mountains to semi-desert, and is recorded regularly from sea level up to c.3,000 m (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Diet It feeds almost exclusively on carrion, mainly that of large mammals (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Breeding site The nest is usually built on a rocky outcrop, with sheltered ledges or small caves preferred (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Management information Effective protection in areas with a plentiful supply of food (which often includes the carrion of domestic animals), has been shown to catalyse impressive population recoveries, and reintroduction has been successful in parts of its range (del Hoyo et al. 1994).
It declined markedly throughout the 19th–20th centuries in much of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, mainly due to direct persecution and bycatch from the poisoned carcasses set for livestock predators (Snow and Perrins 1998, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001, Orta et al. 2015). In some areas a reduction in available food supplies, arising from changes in livestock management practices, also had an impact (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001, Orta et al. 2015). It is very highly vulnerable to the effects of potential wind energy development (Strix 2012) and electrocution has been identified as a threat (Global Raptors Information Network 2015). Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used for veterinary purposes pose a threat to this species. One case of suspected poisoning caused by flunixin, an NSAID, was recorded in this species in 2012 in Spain (Zorrilla et al. 2015). Diclofenac, a similar NSAID, has caused severe declines in Gyps vulture species across Asia.
Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Khwaja, N., Ashpole, J, Wheatley, H., Harding, M., Ekstrom, J.
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Gyps fulvus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/01/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/01/2020.