Geographical Range Mexico, southern Central America, South America
Habitat Forests, savannas
Scientific Name Sarcoramphus papa
Conservation Status Common

This colorful vulture makes its home in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. Like all vultures, it is a scavenger, and is adept at finding dead animals even in dense forests. Although this may seem to us a distasteful lifestyle, the vulture plays an important role in the complex forest ecosystem.

Vultures in Trouble

Vultures are vanishing around the world at an alarming rate. Of the 23 species of vultures in the world, 11 are currently threatened. These birds are declining due to poisoning from feeding on medicated cattle carcasses, power line collisions and loss of food and habitat.

Vultures play a vital role in the environment by cleaning up carcasses and preventing the spread of disease. Conservationists around the world are monitoring populations and implementing measures to conserve vultures and their habitats.

How You Can Help Vultures

You can take action to help vultures by signing a petition to ban the veterinary drug diclofenac in Europe. The drug is used for treating treating cows and pigs in European countries. Vultures and eagles are at risk of death when they eat these contaminated carcasses.

Withdrawal of diclofenac is the only option that completely removes the risk to vultures. There are effective alternative drugs that can replace diclofenac and that are safe to the birds. Last year, the Convention on Migratory Species strongly advised all countries to ban veterinary use of diclofenac.

In the 1990s this drug caused a 95% decline of vultures in the Indian subcontinent, which led to successful ban of veterinarian diclofenac in India, Nepal and Pakistan in 2006.

Did You Know?

The absence of feathers on a vulture's head helps the bird "clean up" after a messy meal.