Critically Endangered Vultures

 / ©: JP Delpal
A group of critically endangered red-headed and white-rumped vultures at a vulture restaurant in Mondulkiri Protected Forest, northeastern Cambodia.
© JP Delpal

Key Facts

  • Common Name

    Red-headed, Slender-billed, and White-rumped Vulture

  • Scientific Name

    Sarcogyps calvus, Gyps tenuirostris, and Gyps bengalensis

  • Status

    In Cambodia: All rare; IUCN: All critically endangered

  • Body Length

    80 - 100cm

  • Weight

    3.5 - 6.3kg

  • Wingspan

    205 - 260cm

Globally significant populations of three species of critically endangered vultures still persist in northern and north-eastern Cambodia, red-headed vulture (Sarcogyps calvus), white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis), and slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostris). These species have undergone dramatic declines of 95-99% on the Indian subcontinent due to the poisoning by the livestock-drug Diclofenac ingested from animal carcasses. Though this drug appears not in use in Southeast Asia, populations have decreased there as well, most probably because of a decrease in food availability due to shrinking wild ungulate populations. The remaining populations are very small, numbering a few hundred individuals at most. Nesting populations in Cambodia are supported by regular supplemental feedings of domestic cattle carcasses through a joint monitoring effort of WWF, WCS and BirdLife International. Because of the absence of Diclofenac, Southeast Asian vulture populations are of critical importance to the global survival of these three species.