A symbiotic relationship - Nature's Interconnectedness and perfection
The symbiotic relationship I’m referring to here is between the Redbilled Oxpecker and the Giraffe. The giraffe is a host to many ticks, horseflies and other ecto-parasitic invertebrates which the oxpecker feeds on. Therefore it’s a beneficial relationship for both animals, although the bird may become a nuisance if the host animal has a wound as the oxpecker also feeds on wound tissue. The redbilled oxpecker uses a scissor-like bill action ( you often see them moving their heads from side to side) when feeding, whereas the yellowbilled oxpecker tends to pluck at prey. Other animals that the redbilled oxpecker forages on are Kudu, Sable, Hippo, Nyala, Impala, Cape Buffalo, Eland, Burchells Zebra, Rhino and large domestic stock( cattle, horses, donkeys, pigs). The oxpeckers are classed in the large Order of birds known as Passerines. The foot structure of Passerines is as follows: foot with three toes in front, one behind; toes not syndactyl (having the toes joined or partly joined), except in broadbills; hind toe at same level as front toes; toes never webbed. This foot structure together with using its tail as a prop enables the oxpecker to forage at any angle anywhere on its host animal- they are exceptionally efficient and thorough; I love watching them when they get to work on the ear of a White Rhino- they go right inside.
Below is a picture of an oxpecker foraging for its food on the butt of a giraffe.
On the same video is a yellowbilled hornbill foraging for insects in some elephant dung. Particularly in summer in the rainy season, you often find loads of insects in fresh elephant dung- different types of dung beetles; handmaidens, which are exquisitely coloured day-time moths. The dung beetles that bury the elephant dung, which they then lay their eggs into, play a very important role in seed propagation. Because of the elephant’s diet and its digestion, the dung may contain plant, bush, tree seeds which the dung beetle will bury, neatly wrapped up in its own perfectly natural “compost”. This is one of the thousands of examples why I love and cherish nature so much, the interconnectedness and the perfection.
The url to watch the video of the squad of redbilled oxpeckers doing their thing on a giraffe, and of the yellowbilled hornbill foraging for insects in elephant dung is at:
Thanks to everyone for submitting the videos and photos.
Cheers for now