7 Sep 2020

Lappet-faced Vulture – Mahazat as-Sayd Protected Area

Whilst in Mahazat as-Sayd Protected Area we saw up to twenty Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus. Lappet-faced Vulture is a scarce breeding resident in Saudi Arabia with other birds passing through in very small numbers on migration. Probably the best site in the Kingdom is Mahazat as-Sayd Protected Area near Taif where there were 27 breeding pairs of Lappet-faced Vultures occur in the park. From 1992 to 2003 numbers increased from 6 to 37 pairs with nests widely scattered throughout the Protected Area which was established in 1989. It is thought the fence around the reserve and lack of access to the general public has allowed the species to increase in numbers with the closest nesting pairs only 500 metres apart. They tend to nest in flat topped Maerua crassifolia trees with the nest approximately 3-4 metres from the ground. The Lappet-faced Vulture is the largest of the old world vultures found in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula with the first record of this species in Saudi Arabia in 1947 located 125 km south east of Riyadh. The population size of this vulture in Saudi Arabia was estimated from available data to be probably in excess of 1000 individuals (Newton and Shobrak 1993).  The population is undoubtedly small enough for there to be serious concern for the conservation of the species in Saudi Arabia. In the neighbouring countries, a small breeding population has been known for some time in Oman and United Arab Emirates. It is believed that the birds in Israel and Arabia both belong to the negevensis subspecies and as the breeding population in Israel is now extinct, Saudi Arabia therefore contains the only viable population of the Arabian race of the lappet-faced vulture.
Lappet-faced Vulture

Lappet-faced Vulture

Lappet-faced Vulture

Lappet-faced Vulture

Lappet-faced Vulture

Lappet-faced Vulture

Lappet-faced Vulture


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