A red-billed oxpecker

Scientific name: Buphagus erythrorhynchus

Red-billed oxpeckers feed on the parasites found on large grazing animals such as rhinos. While the bird gets a good meal, its host benefits from the removal of blood-sucking ticks, as well as a handy alarm system.

If an oxpecker spots a predator, such as a human, approaching, it flies off making a shrill alarm call that rhinos and other animals have learned to respond to.

Oxpecker alarms are not enough to defend against poachers however. Between 1970 and 1992, black rhino (Diceros bicornis) populations decreased by 96%, mainly due to illegal hunting for their horns.

Fantastic feature: Alerting other animals to danger

Where to find them: East and southeast Africa, often perching on grazing animals


  • Title: Red-billed oxpecker

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