Yellow-billed oxpeckers rely on herbivores like the Cape buffalo for food, making a living by picking ticks and
blood-sucking insects from the hides of Africa’s large animals.
The Cape buffalo is oblivious to the oxpeckers that will roam it’s entire body for food. The bird travels across
the hosts body, holding onto it’s flanks, like a woodpecker clinging to a tree trunk, using it’s stiff tail for tripod support.
The relationship of the oxpecker and Cape buffalo has come to be seen as mutually beneficial,or symbiotic.
The birds and their hosts enjoy a comfortable relationship. The big animals pay no attention to the noisy flocks of freeloaders who make themselves at home on their bodies. They not only relieve their hosts of dangerous pests, but also act as sentinels, sounding an alarm
when potential danger approaches.
The Cape buffalo, resting, half asleep in the palms of Amboseli National Park in Kenya, being groomed by the
oxpeckers, reminds me of going to a spa, getting rest and relief from one’s aches and pains.