White-rumped vulture

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The white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis) belongs to the family Accipitridae. These white-rumped vulture species are distributed in Indian Subcontinent and southeast Asia.

Taxonomy of White-rumped vulture

  • Scientific Name: Gyps bengalensis
  • Common Name: White-rumped vulture
  • French: Vautour chaugoun; German: Bengalengeier; Spanish: Buitre dorsiblanco bengalĂ­;
  • Other names: Indian White-backed Vulture; Vultur bengalensis J. F. Gmelin, 1788; Pseudogyps bengalensis;
  • Family: Accipitridae › Accipitriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Gmelin, 1788)
Gyps bengalensis was earlier classified under genus vultur. It is closely related to G. africanus.

Indian birds - Image of White-rumped vulture - Gyps bengalensis
Indian birds - Image of White-rumped vulture - Gyps bengalensis


The white-rumped vulture is a large dark bird, measuring 75 to 90 cm in length and weighing 3,500 to 6,000 grams. The wingspan is 205 to 220 cm. These birds lack feather on the head and neck. The head is greyish pink and the bill is short, heavy and silvery with dark ceres. The juveniles are dark brown. The adults have black plumage with whitish neck-ruff and underwing-coverts. The tail is black. These pale rumped vultures make squealing calls and emits grunts, croaks and hissing sounds.


The white-rumped vultures inhabit open country near human habitations like towns and cities.

Feeding habits

The white-rumped vulture feed mainly on carrion. Sometimes they feed on small mammals, birds and reptiles.


The white-rumped vultures breed during October to March. They usually breed in colonies in tall trees, often near human habitation. The nest is built with sticks and lined with leaves. Usually a single egg is laid. Both the parents take part in rearing the chick.


These vulture species are distributed in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and southern Vietnam. They were present in southern China, Malaysia, south-east Afghanistan and Iran and their current status in these countries is unknown.

Movement Patterns

The white-rumped vulture movement patterns are poorly known. They are considered to be sedentary. They have been recorded to forage over vast areas.

Status and conservation

The white-rumped vulture global population is now estimated to be 3,500 to 15,000 individual birds. There is a sharp decline in the population of these vulture species and they are considered 'critically endangered'. Kidney failure in vultures caused by feeding on carcasses of animals treated with diclofenac (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) was the major cause of sudden decline in populations, especially in India. However the veterinarian diclofenac was taken off the market in the year 2006, in India, Nepal and Pakistan. Present threats to the vulture conservation and survival are degradation of the habitats, human disturbances of breeding pairs and inadequate food availability.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these vulture species and has listed them as "Critically Endangered".

Biological classification of Gyps bengalensis
Species:G. bengalensis
Binomial name:Gyps bengalensis
Distribution:Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia;
Feeding habits:mainly carrion; also feeds on small mammals, reptiles and birds;
IUCN status listing:
Critically Endangered

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