Cameron Schmidt, with a decade of experience in guiding, shares with us the story: "It was just a regular game drive. We were actually observing a cheetah from a distance, resting atop a cliff. As I turned to talk with my guests, I noticed something unusual: an oxpecker was on an impala, and its mouth was full of hair."
"The oxpecker seemed to be collecting nesting material from the impala. Usually, oxpeckers and impalas have a symbiotic relationship where both benefit. However, in this case, it appeared slightly parasitic since the impala was losing hair without any apparent gain. Unless, of course, it's shedding for the summer, which could mean the bird is actually helping it."
"I've been guiding for nearly ten years, and it's moments like these that are truly enlightening. It's not always about the 'big five' sometimes, it's these small, unprecedented interactions in nature that leave you amazed."
"With six guests accompanying me, we all witnessed this fascinating behavior. Further research reveals that birds, like oxpeckers, often use various materials for their nests, including hair from different animals. This observation is a testament to the ever-surprising nature of wildlife and a reminder of how there's always something new to learn in the bush."
"Such experiences, though minor in the grand scheme, are what make each safari unique and memorable. It's a reminder that the wilderness always has new lessons to offer, even for seasoned professionals like myself."
"The oxpecker, having gathered enough hair from the impala, eventually took flight, disappearing from our sight. It's likely that the bird was headed to build its nest, as this is the breeding season for oxpeckers. This departure marked the end of a brief but enlightening encounter."