The Lappet-faced vulture is the largest and most powerful of the African vultures. It is over one metre in height. Its wingspan measures about 2.6m.

It has an enormous beak with which it can tear tough-hided carrion. Other vultures are known to rely on Lappet-faced vultures to rip open a cadaver before feeding on it.

The widely spaced primary feathers on the bird’s wings allow it to glide and soar in the air for long periods without flapping its wings frequently.

The Lappet-faced vulture gets its name from the loose folds of skin (lappets) on its head and neck. The folds are featherless and help keep the bird’s head and neck clean when it digs into putrid carcasses to feed.

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