Behaving more like a vulture than a stork, the marabou is a consummate scavenger, eating just about any animal it can find as carrion (2) (3) (5). Typically, it soars at height, scanning the ground for food, and often congregates around large carcasses with other scavengers such as vultures (2) (5) (6) (7). Furthermore, this species has taken full advantage of the encroachment of human settlements, frequenting dumps, slaughterhouses and fishing villages for discarded scraps (2) (3) (5). However, despite its slightly macabre reputation, the marabou does also take a variety of live prey including lizards, frogs, various insects, snakes, rats, mice and birds (5) (6) (8).
A gregarious bird, the marabou stork is often seen in groups, with up to 1,000 individuals gathering in close proximity to roost at night (8). It also congregates to breed during the dry season, with colonies ranging in size from 20 pairs up to several thousand, often along with other species. The male arrives first and establishes a territory, whereupon it greets all newcomers with hostility, whilst inflating its throat pouch. Eventually, a courting female will be accepted by the male, and the pair will set about building a stick nest, around 10 to 30 metres above the ground in trees or on cliffs-ledges, and sometimes on buildings in towns and villages (2) (4) (5) 8). When the nest is finished, the female lays a clutch of two to three eggs, which are incubated over 29 to 31 days. The chicks fledge when around 13 to 15 weeks old, but do not reach sexual maturity until at least four years of age (4) (5).