Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus


Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Red list criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
A2abce+3bce+4abce A2abce+3bce+4abce A2abce+3bce+4abce; C2a(ii)

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2016 Critically Endangered A2abce+3bce+4abce
2015 Critically Endangered A2abce+3bce+4abce
2013 Critically Endangered A2abce+3bce+4abce
2012 Critically Endangered A2abce+3bce+4abce
2009 Critically Endangered A2a,b,c,e; A3b,c,e; A4a,b,c,e
2008 Critically Endangered
2007 Critically Endangered
2004 Near Threatened
2000 Lower Risk/Near Threatened
1994 Lower Risk/Near Threatened
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern
Species attributes

Migratory status not a migrant Forest dependency Medium
Land mass type Land-mass type - continent
Average mass -
Extent of occurrence (EOO)

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 5,230,000 medium
Number of locations 11-100 -
Fragmentation -
Population and trend
Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 2500-9999 poor estimated 2007
Population trend Decreasing medium estimated -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) 80-99 - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) 80-99 - - -
Number of subpopulations 2-100 - - -
Largest subpopulations 90-94 - - -
Generation length (yrs) 15 - - -

Population justification: Given its rarity in South-East Asia it is unlikely that more than a few hundred individuals remain there, while the total population seems unlikely to exceed 10,000 mature individuals given the patchiness of its distribution across India and the apparently catastrophic very recent declines. In light of this it is placed in the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals. This equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, here rounded to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification: Cuthbert et al. (2006) calculate a decline in excess of 90% within 10 years in India. Similarly Galligan et al. (2014) reported a decline of 94% from 1992 to 2003 in India. Similar declines are expected throughout the Indian Subcontinent.

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Bangladesh N Extant Yes
Bhutan N Possibly Extinct Yes
Cambodia N Extant Yes
China (mainland) N Extant Yes
India N Extant Yes
Laos N Extant Yes
Malaysia N Possibly Extinct Yes
Myanmar N Extant Yes
Nepal N Extant Yes
Pakistan V Extant Yes
Thailand N Possibly Extinct Yes
Vietnam N Extant Yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Cambodia Chhep
Cambodia Lomphat
Cambodia Mekong River from Kratie to Lao PDR
Cambodia Mondulkiri - Kratie Lowlands
Cambodia Sekong River
Cambodia Upper Srepok Catchment
Cambodia Upper Stung Sen Catchment
Cambodia Western Siem Pang
India Amangarh Reserve Forest
India Badopal Lake
India Chandoli National Park
India Jawahar Sagar Sanctuary
India Jor Beer
India Kharda Dam
India Krungming Reserve Forest, Khorongma & Kopili-Umrangsu Reservoirs
India Maguri and Motapung Beels
India Mahaveer Swami Wildlife Sanctuary (Lalitpur)
India Mahendri Reserve Forest
India Manas Reserve Forest
India Naina Devi Himalayan Bird Conservation Reserve
India Nandhour Wildlife Sanctuary
India Nikol-Samadhiyala-Malan Wetlands Complex
India Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve
India Pawalgarh Conservation Reserve
India Pench Tiger Reserve
India Pilibhit Tiger Reserve
India Sardar Samand Lake
India Simbalbara National Park
Laos Attapu Plain
Laos Dong Khanthung
Laos Siphandon
Laos Xe Kong Plains
Nepal Annapurna Conservation Area
Nepal Barandabhar forests and wetlands
Nepal Bardia National Park
Nepal Chitwan National Park
Nepal Dang Deukhuri foothill forests and west Rapti wetlands
Nepal Dharan forests
Nepal Farmlands in Lumbini area
Nepal Khaptad National Park
Nepal Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve and Koshi Barrage
Nepal Langtang National Park
Nepal Mai Valley forests
Nepal Nawalparasi forests
Nepal Rampur valley
Nepal Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve
Vietnam Chu M'lanh
Vietnam Yok Don

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Terrestrial Urban Areas marginal resident
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Dry major resident
Grassland Subtropical/Tropical Dry suitable resident
Savanna Dry suitable resident
Shrubland Subtropical/Tropical Dry suitable resident
Altitude 0 - 2500 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Agriculture & aquaculture Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Agro-industry farming Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Persecution/control Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 5
Species mortality
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Unintentional effects (species is not the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Indirect ecosystem effects
Biological resource use Logging & wood harvesting - Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest] Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Unknown Unknown
Ecosystem degradation
Natural system modifications Other ecosystem modifications Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Ecosystem degradation
Pollution Agricultural & forestry effluents - Type Unknown/Unrecorded Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Very Rapid Declines High Impact: 8
Species mortality

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - International Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Sarcogyps calvus. Downloaded from on 02/04/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 02/04/2020.