Vultures can fly effortlessly for hours at a time. They do so by gliding over thermal updrafts (warm rising pockets of air), grabbing a free lift. They can digest meat in any stage of decay, and withstand diseases that would kill any other creature. Their head and neck are bare, without feathers, which helps them in digging their heads into their food without getting dirty.
Unfortunately, the vultures have been declining in Pakistan and are now critically endangered.
Find out more about WWF-Pakistan's work to save vultures
White-backed vulture Long-billed vulture
Nagar Parkar, Sindh; AJK
3.5 to 7.5 kg
Gyps bengalensis Gyps indicus
height & length
75 - 85 cm
Considered sacred by some of South Asian communities, vultures play an important ecological role in cleaning up our environment.
Why vultures matter?
By efficiently locating and consuming the carcasses of dead livestock and larger wild animals, they are a key component of nature’s sanitation department. They effectively rid the landscape of rotten flesh or carrion and, in so doing, play a key role in the control of serious livestock diseases such as anthrax, tuberculosis and rinderpest. They also offer vital ecosystem services in humanized environments, like the removal of natural waste and the control of overreaching mammalian scavengers through competition.
WWF has been working with government departments and international organizations for over a decade to conserve vultures in Pakistan. We have set up captive breeding and rehabilitation centre, which holds a healthy population of vultures that has potential to breed. A lot of our work also revolves around awareness raising, advocacy, training and capacity building and community empowerment to ensure survival of vultures in the wild.
We have also established Vulture Safe Zones where uncontaminated food (NSAIDs free) is available to protect the remaining population.