State Museum of Natural History
Biodiversity Data Centre

Aegypius monachus (Linnaeus, 1766)

  • Vultur monachus Linnaeus, 1766
Vernacular Name
Cinereous Vulture, Eurasian Black Vulture, Black Vulture, Monk Vulture
Conservation status
IUCN: NT; Be (II); Bo (II); EUBD (I); CITES (II); RDBUkr: Вразливі
Value of species
Aegypius monachus breeds in Spain, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyztan, Iran, Afghanistan, north India, northern Pakistan (A. Khan, A. Parveen and R. Yasmeen in litt. 2005), Mongolia and mainland China, with a small reintroduced population in France (Heredia 1996b; V. Galushin in litt. 1999; Heredia et al. 1997; WWF Greece 1999). It may occasionally breed in Portugal, F.Y.R.O. Macedonia and Albania, but it no longer breeds in Slovenia, Italy, Cyprus, Moldova and Romania. There are wintering areas in Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, north-west India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Lao People's Democratic Republic, North Korea and South Korea. Its global population is estimated to number 7,200-10,000 pairs, with 1,700-1,900 pairs in Europe (BirdLife International 2004; Anon. 2004) and 5,500-8,000 (Anon. 2004) pairs in Asia. In Europe, populations are increasing in Spain (minimum 1,500 pairs [Barov and Derhé 2011]), Portugal and France, and are stable in Greece and Macedonia (Barov and Derhé 2011). However, numbers are decreasing in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, Turkey and the Ukraine (BirdLife International 2004; Barov and Derhé 2011). Overall, the European population underwent a large increase between 1990 and 2000, possibly >30% overall (BirdLife International 2004; I. Burfield in litt. 2005) and increased from 1,330-1,874 in 1993-1996 to 1,995-2,852 in 2000-2010 (Barov and Derhé 2011). Much less information is available regarding the status and population trends of the species in Asia, where the bulk of the global population resides. There are probably over 1,000 pairs in the Asian part of the former Soviet Union and a further 1,760 pairs in China (Ye Xiao-Ti 1991). It appears that breeding populations are more or less stable in Mongolia (where the species is described as common [N. Batbayar in litt. 2005]) and Pakistan (A. Khan, A. Parveen and R. Yasmeen in litt. 2005) (where it is described as scarce), although fluctuations in distribution and breeding success occur, and populations within some nature reserves in Mongolia (where there are few domestic livestock) are declining (N. Batbayar in litt. 2005). In Kazakhstan, however, populations of all vulture species are in severe decline, owing to a precipitous decline in their main food resource, the Saiga antelope (Saiga tartarica) (W. Fremuth in litt. 2005). This trend may be mirrored in a number of other central Asian countries where populations of both domesticated livestock and wild ungulates have declined greatly in recent years (T. Katzner in litt. 2005). Very little is known about population trends on its wintering grounds, although wintering populations appear to be declining in Nepal (H. S. Baral in litt. 2005) and increasing in India (T. Katzner in litt. 2005) and South Korea (Lee et al. 2006). Its global population is estimated to number 7,200-10,000 pairs, roughly equating to 14,000-20,000 mature individuals. This consists of 1,700-1,900 pairs in Europe (BirdLife International 2004; Anon. 2004) and 5,500-8,000 pairs in Asia (Anon. 2004). The population in Korea has been estimated at c.50-10,000 wintering individuals (Brazil 2009). The estimate roughly equates to 21,000-30,000 individuals in total. Trend Justification: Although the European population is increasing, the much larger Asian population appears to be in decline. Overall, a slow to moderate and on-going decline is suspected. The species inhabits forested areas in hills and mountains at 300-1,400 m in Spain, but higher in Asia, where it also occupies scrub and arid and semi-arid alpine steppe and grasslands up to 4,500m (Thiollay 1994). It forages over many kinds of open terrain, including forest, bare mountains, steppe and open grasslands. Nests are built in trees or on rocks (the latter extremely rarely in Europe but more frequently in parts of Asia), often aggregated in very loose colonies or nuclei. Its diet consists mainly of carrion from medium-sized or large mammal carcasses, although snakes and insects have been recorded as food items. Live prey is rarely taken. In Mongolia, at least, the species is reliant on livestock numbers for successful nesting (Batbayar et al. 2006).
Book reference
  • Бокотей А. А., Соколов Н. Ю. Каталог орнітологічної колекції Державного природознавчого музею. – Львів, 2000. – 164 с.

Taxonomic branch