Palm-nut Vulture Gypohierax angolensis


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 stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten 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 ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.


Behaviour This is an Afrotropical species (15°N to 29°S), distributed throughout west and central Africa and as far south as north east South Africa. In the northern and central latitudes of its range it is common to abundant, but becomes rarer in the south and east. The species is sedentary with adults not moving more than a few kilometres, whilst juveniles and immatures will wander vast distances; up to 400km into the Sahel region and as far as 1300km further south than the most southerly breeding location (Ferguson- Lees and Christie, 2001). Habitat The species occupies forest and tall wooded habitats, particularly -but not exclusively- where oil and raffia palms are present and frequently near water bodies. It is often found near small settlements and is tolerant of human approach. It is altitudinally distributed from sea level up to 1800m (Ferguson- Lees and Christie, 2001). Diet The species eats the fruits of oil and raffia palms as well as the fruits and grains of other plants, which collectively form up to 65% of its diet.  However it will also predate amphibians, fish and invertebrates, as well as larger prey such as small mammals, birds, and reptiles, and it will also feed at small carcasses (Ferguson- Lees and Christie, 2001; del Hoyo et al., 1994). Breeding Site Nesting occurs in large stick nests 60-90cm in diameter, located in tall trees. Breeding occurs from October to May in West and Central Africa, from May to December in Angola, June to January in East Africa and August to January in southern Africa (Ferguson- Lees and Christie, 2001).


The species is not persecuted, but is affected by habitat loss, particularly in West Africa. This is partly assuaged by the expansion of oil palm plantations in the area which are a source of food, but have limited nesting opportunities, possibly as a result of harvesting disturbance. Range expansions in Angola and Zululand are attributed to the expansion of palm plantations in these areas. There is some competition at nesting sites with the African Hobby (Ferguson- Lees and Christie, 2001). The species is not likely to be vulnerable to pesticides (del Hoyo et al., 1994).


Text account compilers
Butchart, S. & Ekstrom, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Gypohierax angolensis. Downloaded from on 01/02/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 01/02/2023.