African marabou

Leptoptiles crumeniferus

Common name

African marabou


It lives in a wide variety of habitats, from dry savannahs, grasslands and plains, swampy areas, river and lake shores and other wetlands.








30 days.

Number of offspring

2-3 eggs.




They feed mainly on carrion and fish remains discarded by humans, secondarily they also feed on live prey, such as fish, termites, lobsters, frogs, lizards and snakes, rats and mice and birds.


25 years in the wild and up to 44 in captivity.

Biology and behavior

Gregarious bird that forms reproductive colonies. Build nests in trees using branches and sticks. The chicks are born very late and need more than three months to take their first flight. The breeding season takes place during the dry season, when the level of the ponds is low and the chicks can easily hunt frogs and small fish, among other prey.

Adults are primarily scavengers, although they also hunt live prey. Their long beak does not allow them to deflesh, so they need to steal meat from other scavengers. They snatch the meat from the vultures and keep them at bay until they are satisfied. Sometimes they live off the garbage deposited near the villages, thus contributing to the cleanliness of the towns.

The gular sac that they have under their enormous beak allows them to emit sounds, which will be used as a lure and during courtship.

Its powerful flight allows it to reach considerable heights taking advantage of the ascending currents of warm air. They usually fly in groups and glide majestically, keeping their heads back. It is a very restless, cunning and vigilant bird; It always moves from one side to the other and almost never becomes completely still.


The marabou resists captivity very well and is very easily tamed. Despite its unattractive appearance, it has beautiful feathers on its tail.

Thousands were hunted to export their feathers to Europe and America with the aim of decorating ladies' dresses and hats. Today, most of these feathers come from captive marabou.

African savanna
Equatorial jungle
Madagascar Island