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Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus
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This vulture has been uplisted to Critically Endangered. Recently published evidence suggests the population is experiencing an extremely rapid decline owing to indiscriminate poisoning, trade for traditional medicine, hunting, persecution and electrocution, as well as habitat loss and degradation.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

67-70 cm Small, scruffy-looking, mostly brown vulture, with long thin bill, bare crown, face and foreneck, conspicuous ear-holes, and downy nape and hindneck. Perches hunched with wings drooping. Sexes alike. Juvenile usually with face pale blue and hood of short down dark brown rather than beige. Similar spp N. monachus is smaller and finer-billed compared to Torgos tracheliotus. Juvenile similar to juvenile Neophron percnopterus, but tail not pointed and head has down rather than contour feathering.

Distribution and population
This species is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa; from Senegal and southern Mauritania east through southern Niger and Chad, to southern Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia and western Somalia, southwards to northern Namibia and Botswana, and through Zimbabwe to southern Mozambique and north-eastern South Africa (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). The species is generally sedentary, with some dispersal by non-breeders and immature birds, and movements in response to rainfall in the Sahel of West Africa (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Data and observations of varying coverage and quality from various parts of its range suggest that the species is undergoing a very rapid decline in its global population (Ogada and Buij 2011, Ogada et al. 2015). Trends in Uganda are difficult to detect owing to strong annual variations (Pomeroy et al. 2012) whilst in coastal Gambia the species is reported to remain relatively abundant (Barlow and Fulford 2013). Following evidence of declines across its range, the total population has been estimated at a maximum of 197,000 individuals (Ogada and Buij 2011).

Population justification
Given evidence of recent declines in various parts of its range, this species's population is estimated to number a maximum of 197,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Recently published data shows that this species's population is declining rapidly with an estimated 83% decline (range 64-93%) over three generations (53 years) (Ogada et al. 2015).

The species is often associated with human settlements, but is also found in open grassland, forest edge, wooded savanna, desert and along coasts (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). It occurs up to 4,000 m, but is most numerous below 1,800 m. It feeds mainly on carrion, but also takes insects. In West Africa and Kenya it breeds throughout the year, but especially from November to July. Breeding in north-east Africa occurs mainly in October-June, with birds in southern Africa tending to breed in May-December. It is an arboreal nester and lays a clutch of one egg. Its incubation period lasts 46-54 days, followed by a fledging period of 80-130 days. Young are dependent on their parents for a further 3-4 months after fledging (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001).

Major threats to this species include non-target poisoning, capture for traditional medicine and bushmeat (McKean et al. 2013), and direct persecution (Ogada and Buij 2011, Ogada et al. 2015). In Nigeria, a survey of medicinal traders found that Hooded Vulture was the most commonly traded species of vulture, with 90% of all vulture parts traded belonging to the species (Saidu and Buij 2013). And across West and Central Africa the species is one of the most heavily traded, with an estimated 5,850-8,772 individuals traded over a six-year period in West Africa (Buij et al. 2015). Hooded Vulture meat is reportedly sold as chicken in some places. Intentional poisoning of vultures may be carried out in some areas by poachers in order to hide the locations of their kills. Secondary poisoning with carbofuran pesticides at livestock baits being used to poison mammalian predators is also an issue in East Africa (Otieno et al. 2010, C. Kendall in litt. 2012, Roxburgh and McDougall 2012). Declines have also been attributed to land conversion through development and improvements to abattoir hygiene and rubbish disposal in some areas (Ogada and Buij 2011). The species may also be threatened by avian influenza (H5N1), from which it appears to suffer some mortality and which it probably acquires from feeding on discarded dead poultry (Ducatez et al. 2007).

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
This widespread species occurs in a large number of protected areas. It will be listed as nationally Endangered in the Eskom Red Data Book of Birds of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.

and Research Actions Proposed
Carry out systematic surveys throughout the species's range to acquire a more accurate population estimate and monitor trends. Raise awareness of the species's plight and the impact of hunting and persecution. Monitor rates of land-use change across its range. Monitor effects of poisoning on the species and its use in muti trade and for meat (C. Kendall in litt. 2012). A number of recommendations were produced at the 2012 Pan-Africa Vulture Summit (Botha et al. 2012, Ogada et al. 2015): 1) Regulate import, manufacture and sale of poisons; 2) Legislate and enforce measures to prosecute those involved in illegal killing and trade in vulture species; 3) Protect and effectively manage breeding sites; 4) Ensure new energy infrastructure is 'vulture-friendly' and modify existing unsafe infrastructure; 5) Support activities to conserve vulture populations, including research and outreach activities. 

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Barlow, C.R. and Fulford, T. 2013. Road counts of Hooded Vultures Necrosyrtes monachus over seven months in and around Banjul, coastal Gambia, in 2005. Malimbus 35(1): 50-56.

Botha, A.J., Ogada, D.L. and Virani, M.Z. 2012. Proceedings of the Pan-African Vulture Summit. Endangered Wildlife Trust, Modderfontein, South Africa and The Peregrine Fund, Boise, ID.

Buij, R., Nikolaus, G., Whytock, R., Ingram, D.J. and Ogada, D. 2015. Trade of threatened vultures and other raptors for fetish and bushmeat in West and Central Africa. Oryx FirstView Article(

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

McKean, S., Mander, M., Diederichs, N., Ntuli, L., Mavundla, K., Williams, V. and Wakelin, J. 2013. The impact of traditional use on vultures in South Africa. Vulture News 65: 15-36.

Ogada, D., Shaw, P., Beyers, R.L., Buij, R., Murn, C., Thiollay, J.M., Beale, C.M., Holdo, R.M., Pomeroy, D., Baker, N., Krüger, S.C., Botha, A., Virani, M.Z., Monadjem, A. and Sinclair, A.R.E. 2015. Another Continental Vulture Crisis: Africa's Vultures Collapsing toward Extinction. Conservation Letters: 1-9.

Ogada, D.L.; Buij, R. 2011. Large declines of the Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus across its African range. Ostrich 82(2): 101-113.

Otieno, P. O.; Lalah, J. O.; Virani, M., Jondiko, I. O.; Schramm, K. 2010. Carbofuran and its toxic metabolites provide forensic evidence for Furadan exposure in vultures (Gyps africanus) in Kenya. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 84: 536-544.

Pomeroy, D., Kaphub, G., Nalwangac, D., Ssemmandad, R., Lotukb, B., Opetob, A. and Matsikob, M. 2012. Counting vultures at provisioned carcasses in Uganda. Vulture News 62: 25-32.

Roxburgh, L. and McDougall, R. 2012. Vulture poisoning incidents and the status of vultures in Zambia and Malawi. Vulture News 62: 33-39.

Saidu, Y. and Buij. R. 2013. Traditional medicine trade in vulture parts in northern Nigeria. Vulture News 65: 4-14.

Virani, M.; Kendall, C.; Njoroge, P.; Thomsett, S. 2011. Major declines in the abundance of vultures and other scavenging raptors in and around the Masai Mara ecosystem, Kenya. Biological Conservation 144: 746-752.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Ashpole, J

Kendall, C., Brouwer, J., Barlow, C., Mundy, P., Rainey, H., Hall, P., Goodwin, W., Mhlanga, W. & Anthony, A.

The species distribution map was updated with the generous support of the African Raptor Databank, habitat INFO and the Peregrine Fund.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Necrosyrtes monachus. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Hooded vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered
Family Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles)
Species name author (Temminck, 1823)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 15,100,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change