It is always special to see the various relationships that exist between two or more different species of animals in the African wild. One great example of this is the relationship of a bird called the oxpecker and wild mammals in Africa. Their relationship is specifically known as a symbiotic relationship where both or all species involved benefit from the relationship. In this case the bird is checking the skins of animals for ticks and parasites they can feed on. In return the animals get rid of pesky bloodsucking parasites that can be detrimental to their health.
This sighting was a great example of when baby animals don’t yet understand this type of relationship and is more seen as an annoyance than a benefit. During a late afternoon safari in the Kruger National Park, we stopped to watch a small herd of zebra busy feeding in the open. It was summer time which meant that there were many baby zebras around in the herds. Zebra foals are always adorable and they make for very entertaining viewing. We noticed one oxpecker bird jumping around the animals in the herd, looking for easy pickings between the hairs on their skins. The bird landed on the head of one baby zebra. It was not long before the little zebra became evidently annoyed with the bird continuously wanting to nibble in and around its ear.
The ears of grazing mammals are one of those hard to reach places that is crucial to be cleaned. Only the bird can reach in the ear but it can clearly be a very annoying experience at the same time. It was so funny to watch the baby zebra shaking its head in an effort to get rid of the bird. The bird was relentless and kept going for the baby zebra’s ear the whole time. The bird simply would not go away while sticking to the side of the zebra’s head searching inside its ears for a snack. The pesky bird ended up annoying the little zebra so much that it hilariously started jumping around, kicking into the air while going a little crazy for a few seconds. The bird also became annoyed eventually and flew off to irritate another zebra in the herd.