I was impressed by the number of parasites on the wildlife during my trip to South Africa. In particular, I noticed these parasites on Giraffes, Zebras, Antelopes, Nyalas and Wildebeests. I also noticed birds like the Red-billed Oxpecker on top the animals consuming the ticks and other parasites that were annoying the wildlife. You can see the large number of parasites on the bottom right portion of the image that were attached to this Giraffe. The bird was plucking them and the Giraffe seemed appreciative of the service provided by the parasite remover.
Oxpeckers’ bills are especially adapted to their lifestyle. The bills are pointed as well as laterally compressed which helps the birds work their way through the coats of the mammals in a comb-like fashion and to pry out well embedded parasites. The birds are also known to help clean-up open wounds. What they are after around the open sore is the rotting wound tissue. Oxpeckers are quite efficient at cleaning these lesions. Their legs are also well adapted to a life spent perched on mammals. The legs are shortened to enable them to grip onto their moving hosts.
This image was taken with my Canon EOS 5DS using my Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 II Lens set on 400mm. The camera was set on Aperture priority mode with the aperture set at f/8, shutter speed at 1/400th of a second and the ISO set at 640. This was a single image processed in Lightroom.
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Please don’t bring any tiny guests home with you. That was not good to zoom into. :)
Yeah, I hope none are in the luggage…