Feeding preferences of Oxpeckers in Kruger National Park, South Africa
IIIThe Endangered Wildlife Trust, Gauteng, South Africa Oxpeckers, B. africanus, are known to take part in symbiotic relationships with African Whilst ticks are the main food source for both Oxpecker species, the birds are also known . Oxpeckers were also present on Hippopotamus, Plains Zebra and Impala (Figure 1). Oxpecker funny cartoons from CartoonStock directory - the world's largest "All I can tell you is they're not the cute little birds who usually ride around on us. ' then they jumped off the hippo, they jumped on to me, and they've been there ever since.' Symbiotic Relationship: Rhino helps an oxpecker with guitar practice. Hippos typically enjoy a mutualistic relationship with oxpeckers: the birds get a free meal by eating parasites off of the mammals' backs. However, this baby.
Perhaps these differences between the Kenya study and the KNP findings could be attributed to differences in ungulate densities between the two sites. One would assume that the Kenya sites Masai Mara Reserve and Lake Nakuru National Park had a high abundance of large ungulates compared to KNP, hence a marked host preference would only be apparent in lower ungulate densities where interspecific competition is unavoidable.
However, that hypothesis cannot be tested without a measure of ungulate densities from all sites. Surprisingly, the PI results in the present study differed from Grobler and Stutterheim and Stutterheim Optimal foraging strategy Pyke will predict that animals will concentrate on the most abundant and profitable food source. For example, there were fewer White Rhinoceros and Hippopotamus in KNP in the s compared to the present-day population It is therefore reasonable to conclude that as White Rhinoceros and Hippopotamus numbers increased, Red-billed Oxpeckers responded by selecting for these new abundant host species with potentially higher tick loads and less hair to hide the ticks.
Giraffe remained the most preferred host species in both the northern and southern regions of the park. This could also be a detection bias, given that it is possibly easier for flying birds to detect Giraffe compared to other shorter species. This is further supported by Oxpeckers' preference for White Rhinoceros and Hippopotamus both large ungulatesrecorded as host species in Skukuza.
Interestingly, Impala, an abundant, small-sized ungulate, was less preferred as a host species across studies. This surprising contradicts what has been reported by GroblerStutterheim and Stutterheim and Hart et al. Both Red-billed and Yellow-billed Oxpeckers displayed a preference for the back and head regions of their respective host species. Red-billed Oxpeckers also preferred the necks of Giraffe. Additionally, Oxpeckers prefer feeding on the back regions of a host species since this is easily accessible and provides a stable perch Weeks The head is also preferred since it provides additional food resources other than ticks, i.
Exceedingly low occurrences of wound feeding by Red-billed Oxpeckers and the absence of wound feeding in Yellow-billed Oxpeckers suggests that this feeding behaviour is not prevalent in KNP as previously reported in cattle ranches in Zimbabwe Weeks Plantanin her study on both Oxpecker species at Shingwedzi inalso found the prevalence of wound feeding behaviour to be very low 3.
However, she did find that wound feeding was exhibited by Yellow-billed Oxpeckers more than Red-billed Oxpeckers. In the current study, there were instances where ungulates were observed with open wounds and yet Oxpeckers did not tamper with the wounds, but rather continued tick feeding.
Symbiotic relationship between Oxpecker bird an hippopotamus by Ben Williams on Prezi
This observation further suggests that Oxpeckers pose no risk to free-roaming wildlife. Large ungulates tolerated Oxpeckers more so than medium-sized ungulates. The preferential selection of larger hosts also indicates that reintroductions of Oxpeckers should target areas with high tick loads and substantial, large ungulate populations of the host species that are preferred.
Therefore, even if a large ungulate has many ticks, this does not mean that the Oxpecker will consume those ticks or utilise the host. However, the present study does provide additional insight and understanding of Red-billed and Yellow-billed Oxpeckers' feeding behaviours, particularly in KNP and in terms of wild host species and body-location preferences.
Because the rhino can survive without the tickbird, Kifaru is a facultative partner in this mutualistic relationship.
Rhinos & the Oxpecker Bird
Askari wa Kifaru The little oxpecker "askari wa kifaru" or "the rhino's guard" in Swahili "cleans" the rhino by plucking ticks from Kifaru's skin, but does so selectively; he prefers big, fat ticks that are already engorged with blood, ignoring the little ones that irritate Kifaru just as badly. The oxpecker also searches any wounds or sores Kifaru may have and removes botfly larvae and other parasites, but in the process he also removes scabs and tissue, causing fresh bleeding.
In fact, the oxpecker gets his blood meals as much directly from Kifaru himself as from the parasites he removes. This makes the tickbird the obligate partner, almost a parasite himself.
He needs Kifaru with his parasite burden as a primary, if not a sole, food source. A Better Partner The oxpecker is not the only partner Kifaru has in mutualism. White birds larger that the tickbird follow the rhino, feeding on insects and small animals Kifaru disturbs as he passes.
They sometimes even ride on his back. These are cattle egrets Bubulcus ibisand like the tickbird, they follow many large mammals to profit from their passage.
This places the cattle egret in a different category of mutualism with the rhino, called commensalism. This is a more balanced relationship, as both partners benefit and neither takes more than he gives.