If you want to capture the essence of Africa photographically then vulture pictures must form part of your portfolio. No safari will be complete without them soaring majestically in vast circles on a thermal updraft on a heat hazy horizon
They perform a very important function on the African savannah making sure there is no carrion left to spread disease. They scavenge almost exclusively but have been known to attack wounded or newborn animals smaller than themselves.
Your best opportunities for great pictures of vultures on safari are going to occur if you come across a carcass that they are busy feeding on.
At other times they are either a speck in a dark blue sky or sitting nearly motionless in the uppermost branches of a tree. Both are difficult to photograph unless you have a huge lens available.
But catch them feeding or waiting to feed and you can get some good close-ups and maybe some action shots too.
I have seen lions chase away vultures from their kill many times as the birds attempt to get some scraps.
And watched them get revenge by actually chasing a cheetah away from a gazelle it had just moments before hunted down. A group of these ugly birds can be quite intimidating and they are pretty aggressive.
They squabble amongst themselves for food too and there is a definite feeding hierarchy with size seemingly playing the determining factor in who gets to eat first. The smaller vulture species have to wait their turn as they get shouldered out the way by larger cousins.
The bald head is always a dead giveaway that a bird is a vulture and it probably evolved this way because a feathered head would be difficult to keep clean considering their feeding habits.
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