The bearded vulture is the biggest raptor in Eurasia. This bird plays a unique role and is considered sacred in Tibet. Local people call it Dakini, which means sky dancer, something similar to an angel. Vultures take part in the traditional sky burial when the dead body is taken to special burial sites and offered to these birds. It is believed that vultures take the souls of the dead to the heaven, where they wait for new reincarnations. This ritual of donating human flesh is considered virtuous as it saves the lives of small animals that could be eaten instead.
To see these birds in Tibet you can visit sky burial sites, like the famous Drigung-Til Monastery or Larung Gar Buddhist Academy (near Larung), or hike to high elevations. The best time for this activity is from May to October, good months for hiking in the area. Usually vultures nests are found on high cliffs at an altitude of over 4,200 m. They live in pairs in small colonies that usually consists of five to seven pairs. One colony can have nesting grounds on the same cliff. The breeding season takes place in January. These birds usually feed on dead rather on living animals, and this is one more reason they are so honourable. They are so called nature protectors.
In Tibet every year a large number of animals die due to the harsh climate of the region. And thus all that corpses of animals lie on the snow. This can pollute the water, as the Himalayas are the main source of the drinking water rivers in all of Asia. Vultures save the environment from pollution in a very natural way.