oa Journal of East African Natural History - A Nineteenth - Century reference to the use of tools by the Egyptian Vulture

Volume 1969, Issue 118
  • ISSN : 0012-8317



A recent note by the van Lawick-Goodalls (1966) has descriptionbed, and illustrated with remarkable photographs, the manner in which the Egyptian Vulture, Neophron perconopterus (Linnaeus), breaks Ostrich eggs by lifting stones in its beak and throwing them at the eggs. In this connection the following account (Wood, 1877), published more than ninety years ago, is perhaps of interest: ""Two articles of diet which certainly do not seem to fall within the ordinary range of vulture's food are said to be consumed by this bird. The first is the egg of the ostrich, the shell of which is too hard to be broken by the feeble beak of the Egyptian Vulture. The bird cannot, like the l?mmergeier, carry the egg into the air and drop it on the ground, because its feet are not large enough to grasp it, and only slip off its round and polished surface. Therefore, instead of raising the egg into the air and dropping it upon a stone, it carries a stone into the air and drops it upon the egg. So at least say the natives of the country which it inhabits, and there is no reason why we should doubt the truth of the statement. The other article of food is a sort of melon ... ""

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