Conservation status: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED
Common name: Asian king vulture, Indian black vulture or Pondicherry vulture
Scientific name: Sarcogyps calvus
Length: 76 – 86 cm
Weight: 3.5–6.3 kg
Red-headed vultures were once a common species of bird that could be found in India to Singapore in the late 1990s. However, in just two decades, this gaudy looking bird is now facing threats of extinction.
In most cases, loss of habitat would be one of the primary causes for such a rapid decline in the total population. But in this case, it is the widespread use of drugs, such as NSAIDs (diclofenac in particular) that is used for the treatment of livestock. It is quite tragic to see that vulture that can digest deadly bacteria falling victim to human-made medicine.
Fortunately, there are few organizations that are seeking to ban the sale of diclofenac and conserve the species through captive breeding until the environment is free of such drugs, or at least to establish “safe zones” for vultures.
- “Red-Headed Vulture Videos, Photos, And Facts – Sarcogyps Calvus | Arkive”. Arkive, https://www.arkive.org/red-headed-vulture/sarcogyps-calvus/.
- “Red-Headed Vulture | Sarcogyps Calvus”. EDGE Of Existence, http://www.edgeofexistence.org/species/red-headed-vulture/.
- “Red-Headed Vulture (Sarcogyps Calvus)”. Hbw.Com, https://www.hbw.com/species/red-headed-vulture-sarcogyps-calvus.
- “Why Vultures Can Survive World’s Most Deadliest Illnesses”. Mercola.Com, https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2015/06/02/vulture-microbiome.aspx.