Range: Tropical Africa
Habitat: Savannas, grasslands, sub-desert; sometimes in dense woodlands with abundant rainfall
Wild Diet: Carrion - dead wild animals and domestic stock; bone flakes
Zoo Diet: Meat and bone chips
This bird cannot fly far without using thermals to permit long glides. It often flies over 30 miles to find food. It often perches near cattle kraals, where it expects dead livestock to be available. Because its bill is weak it must feed on the innards and soft flesh of the animal after hyenas or jackals have opened up the carcass. The bird is quite gregarious at feeding sites and at its roost in tall trees, making throaty squawks, hisses, and pig-like squeals. They roost in groups until two or three hours after dawn, and return to the roost about three hours before dark. They often gorge themselves until they are too full to fly.
They breed in loose groups, often in arid areas and nests in tall trees. The nuptial display is not spectacular, and consists mostly of slow circling in pairs near the nest. Copulation takes place in the trees or in the nest itself. Breeding takes place from August to April. They may make their own nests of sticks and leaves held together by guano, or they take over old nests of storks, eagles or secretary birds. The nests are comparatively small for the size of the bird. Both male and female share in the incubation of the single egg and in caring for the chick until it can fly at about six weeks of age. They will not breed if food is scarce.
Gestation: Incubation: 56 to 58 days
Litter: 1 egg
Conservation Status: Endangered