If you’ve seen groups of zebras on TV or in films, you might recall
that frequently you might have also seen ostriches in the vicinity.
The zebra and the ostrich share a symbiotic relationship, where
each makes up for the other’s deficiency.
The ostrich has a very poor sense of smell
and hearing, while these two senses are very high in the zebra. It
therefore prefers to move with the zebra, for the latter often warns
it when danger is lurking. And how does it return the favor to the
stripped friend? Well, the zebra’s eyesight is pathetic, whereas the
ostrich has excellent eyesight. It has particularly sharp seeing in
the distance. The moment it sees danger, it warns its friend the
zebra. How convenient! Nature does get its equations right.
Honey, I drunk my bit
Here is yet another example of symbiosis between the ratel and the
African honeyguide. The honeyguide, as its name suggests, is a
wizard at locating bee’s nest with a delicious supply of honey. The
catch for the bird is that it is too small to enter the bee’s nest
and is also afraid of the bees’ sting. It enlists the help of the
more powerful ratel (a nocturnal carnivorous African mammal that
resembles a badger). With its coating of fur, the ratel is safe from
the sting of the bees and he therefore fearlessly breaks open the
nest and helps himself generously to the supply of honey. Once he is
satisfied, he invites the honeyguide to take its share, probably a
tip for helping him locate the honey.
Rent free lodging
A fourth interesting example of symbiosis is between the Southern Rufous
woodpecker and Black Tree ants. Normally asocial creatures, these
ants are generous when it comes to the Southern Rufous woodpecker,
which may be found in India and Sri Lanka. For reasons still a
mystery, these ants allow the woodpecker to lay eggs in a hole
beside their nests. Is it any wonder then that when it wants to lay
eggs, the Southern Rufous woodpecker looks for a colony of Black
Have you heard of Monkey Birds? Well, these are actually hornbills.
They are also called Monkey Birds because they love to remain close
to the Guenon monkeys of the Upper African Congo region. Here, the
relationship is not two-way; in fact, it is strictly one-way. Here,
only the hornbill benefits. When the monkeys climb trees in search
of juicy fruits, they cause moths, beetles and other insects to fall
to the ground. These falling insects are veritable feasts for the
hornbills. Feast without an effort, manna from the trees. The Monkey
Birds naturally stay close to the Guenon monkeys.