The oxpecker lives upon the rhinoceros as well as other large animals, such as cattle, The rhinoceros and the oxpecker have a mutual symbiotic relationship. One example of a mutualistic relationship is that of the oxpecker (a kind of bird) and the rhinoceros or zebra. Oxpeckers land on rhinos or zebras and eat ticks. The tickbird and the rhino share a mutualistic relationship because the rhino grassland and savanna is the relationship between the elephant and birds in the .
The rhinoceros enjoys relief from the insects, while the birds enjoy a meal, but the relationships are not always so clear-cut. Mutualistic Relationships in a Rhino's Gut Rhinoceroses are ungulates: They eat tough plant matter but are not able to digest the cellulose their food contains.
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They rely on microflora that are able to digest this material, releasing nutrients like fatty acids that the host animal can absorb and use for energy — an example of mutualism. The hosts don't ruminate like cattle; the microflora work in the host's hindgut. Studies of white rhino dung show bacteria of the phyla Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes dominating the microflora living in the rhino gut, along with many other unclassified bacteria.
A Symbiotic, but Parasitic, Relationship in a Rhino's Gut The rhinoceros bot fly Gyrostigma rhinocerontis lives exclusively in the digestive tracts of both white and black rhinoceroses. The adults, which are the largest flies in Africa, lay their eggs on the skin of rhinos, and the larvae burrow into the rhino's stomach, where they attach and live through larval stages called "instars. Then they have only a few days to find another rhinoceros host.
This symbiotic relationship has no benefit to the rhino hosts, while the flies are "obligate parasites," which means they're dependent on the rhinos — they can't complete their life cycle without them.
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The two animals are not entirely equal partners, with the relationship tipped in favor of the bird. Symbiosis Among the several forms of symbiosis is mutualism, in which two or more organisms live or function together to benefit each other.
One aspect of mutualism is the extent of involvement -- one partner may be completely dependent on the relationship obligatewhile the other benefits from the relationship but can survive without it facultative. Adding the word "cleaning" to mutualism indicates that one partner removes external parasites from the other. Kifaru The rhino "kifaru" in Swahili grazes on the African savanna and shelters in dense thickets of thorny brush.
Ticks lurk in both spots, waiting to fling themselves onto a host. Kifaru's skin is thick, but very sensitive and well supplied with blood just under the surface, so it bleeds easily.
Ticks and other skin parasites make Kifaru itch horribly, so he spends a lot of time and energy scratching himself on rocks and trees, trying to get rid of them.
This is where the oxpecker, or tickbird, can be a big help. Kifaru is also very shortsighted and has a hard time seeing enemies if they approach, but the oxpecker on Kifaru's back can, and provides some warning by hissing and screaming. Because the rhino can survive without the tickbird, Kifaru is a facultative partner in this mutualistic relationship. Askari wa Kifaru The little oxpecker "askari wa kifaru" or "the rhino's guard" in Swahili "cleans" the rhino by plucking ticks from Kifaru's skin, but does so selectively; he prefers big, fat ticks that are already engorged with blood, ignoring the little ones that irritate Kifaru just as badly.