African Birdlife
No Risk No Reward Taking The Lions Share Image Credit: African Birdlife
No Risk No Reward Taking The Lions Share Image Credit: African Birdlife

No Risk, No Reward - Taking The Lion's Share

Most African vultures depend pri-marily on the kills made by large carnivores for their food.

Grant Atkinson

This perhaps best applies to those birds that spend their time within naturally functioning wild areas where large carnivores still live and flourish. Rüppell’s, White-backed, Lappet-faced, White-headed and Hooded vultures, as well as Tawny Eagles and Black Kites, routinely feed in this way. Scavenging from a kill made by another animal is an excellent strategy as the birds are able to feed on a high-protein food source without having to expend energy or expose themselves to the risk that comes with subduing large prey.

However, feeding at carnivore kills is not totally without risk for the birds, since large carnivores have varying levels of acceptance of winged scavengers. Lions are usually the least tolerant of Africa’s big cats when it comes to vultures; they can and will kill them, not necessarily for food but rather to eliminate possible competition. This is why vultures are typically wary of getting too close to a carcass if lions are still feeding – or even if they are lying in the vicinity. It also means that among the scavenging birds, those that are more agile and able to take flight quickly, perhaps even vertically from the ground, have an advantage over the others. Tawny Eagles and Black Kites are among the species that are able to make a quick getaway and they are so ad

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