My closer inspection of the photograph that follows revealed three different bird species surrounding the white rhino, which was grazing peacefully on the low grass in evidence this month. The black bird on the rhino’s withers is a fork-tailed drongo (Dicurus adsimilis). It’s waiting for the rhino to disturb insects in the grass, as it walks along, and then it’ll swoop down and catch them. The yellow-billed oxpecker (Buphagus africanus) is caught in the act of drinking blood directly from the scratch on the rhino’s side, and the little blue bird in the corner, a greater blue-eared starling (Lamprotornis chalybaeus), has already achieved success from using the rhino as its hunting machine, by catching an insect trying to flee the rhino’s tread.
I can’t recall seeing an oxpecker on the ground – they’re always perched on an animal, branch or in flight. This one used the buffalo as a base to inch its way down to the water’s edge to have a sip.
From these two photographs it’s not hard to see why many people confuse the African (Cape) buffalo (Syncerus caffer) with the Asian domestic water buffalo that has the rather delightful scientific name of Bubalus bubalis. African buffalo love to wallow, but are not closely related to water buffalo.
When it comes to wallowing, hippos take the cake! These three were chilling in the shallows of the Chiredzi River. They spend about 16 hours in the water and then emerge at dusk, to graze.