South Africa’s wilderness is known for its diversity and abundance, so there’s no secret that wildlife photographers love spending time in its nature.
Same was the story of Zaheer Ali, who was driving through the South African wilderness, and spotted a single rhino resting on the grass.
Just like every photographer, Ali also had his camera at the ready, but he was surprised to notice a young oxpecker perching on the rhino’s head. Theis small bird is often spotted hitchhiking on the backs and heads of African rhinos. The union of these two wild friends is of extreme benefit both for the rhino and the bird. The birds eats ticks and fly larvae which are abundant on the rhino’s skin, thus ridding the large amount of parasites. Whereas the rhino provide a safe place to live for the bird and plenty of food.
Recently though the scientists had found another outstanding symbiotic bond between these two wild friends – it appears that oxpeckers ae able to alert rhinos about upcoming danger. Scientists found that when oxpeckers detect humans approaching, they make a sharp warning call, and the rhinos know what to do next. This compensates the poor eyesight of rhinos and helps them avoid any danger. It’s interesting that the Swahili name for the oxpecker is “Askari wa kifaru,” which literally translated means “the rhino’s guard.”
Some poachers hunt rhinos for their only horn – this is believed to be used for medical purposes in traditional Chinese medicine. Despite the fact that there is no scientific justification on the results of such medicine, there are still poachers who hunt the endangered rhinos because of their money lust.
In Ali’s photos, both the oxpecker and the rhino look completely relaxed and happy in each other’s presence.