Endangered vulture caught in northern Vietnam

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The "big, weird" bird caught by an ethnic resident in Son La Province last month has been identified by a zoologist as the Cinereous Vulture.

A "big, weird" bird caught by an ethnic minority resident in the northwestern province of Son La last month has been identified by a zoologist as the Cinereous Vulture (also known as Black Vulture, Monk Vulture, or Eurasian Black Vulture).

Professor Vo Quy, a noted zoologist, told online newspaper VnExpress the bird was not "strange" but it is rather rare.

On January 20, Le Van Lien, the 62-year-old resident of an ethnic minority village in Quynh Nhai District saw the bird swoop down on a pond near his house.

Lien said the bird looked like it was starving and could not fly any more.

He caught the bird, brought it home and fed it with meat and vegetable.

The 7.5-kilogram bird, with a wingspan of 2.8 meters and a body 0.7 meters long, has brought many curious villagers to his house.

The bird eats one and a half kilograms of meat and vegetables each day, according to Hien.

Hien did not reveal if he would release the bird or not.

After photos of the bird were carried by online publications, Prof. Quy told VnExpress it was the Cinerous Vulture (Aegypius monachus), a near-threatened species and one of the largest true birds of prey in the world.

The birds mostly live in southern Europe, northern Africa, Middle East, Iran, Mongolia and parts of China, but occasionally migrate to northern Vietnam in the winter, according to Quy.

They usually get caught after failing to find food and falling from starvation, he said.

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