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Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary, India

(Gypaetus barbatus)

IUCN status : Near threatened

Lammergeiers, also known as bearded vultures, are characterized by its prominent beard. These giant birds can grow up to 4 ft tall. They have a wingspan between 7 and 9 feet and usually weigh around 4 to 7 Kgs. The huge wingspan makes it the largest flying bird of the Indian subcontinent. Lammergeiers are scavengers and known to feed only on bones and bone marrows. Its stomach acid has a pH of about 1, so that the dense material can be digested in under 24 hours. These scavengers wait near a carcass till the time the predators and other scavengers mop up their part. Once the crowd is gone, Lammergeiers start feeding. They pull out bones from the dead body, take it in their claws and get it high up in the air. From there they drop the bone on any hard surface just to break it. Thereafter they come down to feed on the bone marrow of the broken bone. This peculiar kind of feeding attracts minimum competitors and hence the Lammergeiers are at peace even at one of the most challenging terrains in the world.  These birds are meant to survive in the extreme climate and terrain of the upper reaches of the mountain ranges.

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