None of us are perfect. Given that, it is natural for humans to bond with other humans who fill the gap that one lacks. But have you ever watched two animals help each other out?
Surprisingly, animals do not recognize ‘speciesism.’ One animal does not think of itself as superior to another. In fact, you will find many unlikely pairs of animals coming together for a better living. One such fantastic pair is the ostrich and the zebra. But how do ostriches and zebras work together? Let’s find out!
What is the relationship between a zebra and an ostrich?
A zebra and an ostrich showcase a shining example of a symbiotic relationship of mutualism. They display interaction between two different biological species for mutual benefit. In fact, the bond is so strong that often, one cannot live without another.
How do zebras and ostriches help each other?
How ostriches and zebras work together:
Zebras and ostriches showcase nature’s very own Confederation. Both these animals are vulnerable prey to pack animals and need to protect themselves from becoming easy prey to them.
Ostriches have sharp and acute eyesight. They can locate the predators even amidst the tall grass of South Africa with a surprising accuracy even when they are at a great distance away. But it is hard of hearing and additionally flaunt a weak olfactory system, i.e., sense of smell.
In contrast, zebras have an exceptional ability to hear and more than a decent sense of smell. But they have extremely poor eyesight. However, they both cover their lacuna by teaming up with each other. Together, they are able to successfully protect themselves from predators. They are often joined by gazelles who have an exceptional sense of smell.
Together, they form an excellent defense group and can live their natural life span. Living together, they can hear the faintest of sound, see for miles and smell predators even from afar. It means they can avoid predators more successfully than if they were alone.
Where do zebras and ostriches live?
Ostriches are native to Africa. Mostly, you find zebras and ostriches living together in the savanna and desert regions of Africa.
Both animals live in groups. And both groups live together and graze together for a better and stronger living.
Other examples of mutualism in nature:
Zebras and ostriches are not the only examples of mutualism in nature. In fact, there are several such examples. We list out a few.
Ants and Aphids
The ant and the aphids are perhaps some of the most popular examples of mutualism that we see around. The aphids feed on the sap of trees to secrete honeydew, their sweet and sticky waste product. It is the favorite food of ants. They are addicted to it. In exchange, the ants protect the aphids from other insect predators. The ants also carry the aphids to new locations with new leaves and stimulate them by stroking them with their antennae. Aphids start producing the honeydew on stimulus.
Hence, here ants get a constant food supply in exchange for providing protection and shelter to the aphids.
Oxpeckers and grazing animals
The oxpecker bird is found in the sub-Saharan African savanna. They are often seen perching on large grazing mammals like buffalo, impalas, giraffes, etc.
Oxpeckers feed on the parasites like the ticks, flies, etc., that are found on the skin of these animals. By doing this, they provide the pest-control service and help the mammals remain infection and disease-free. Additionally, the oxpecker also alerts these mammals of a predator presence by giving a loud warning call. Hence, both sides get mutually benefited.
The spider crab and the algae
Spider crabs are found in the shallow areas of the ocean floor. The greenish-brown algae often reside on their back. In exchange for a safe abode, the algae provide camouflage protection to the crabs. Their layer of greenish-brown protection helps the crab blend seamlessly with the environment and become unnoticeable to its predators. Hence, both remain safe.
Nature is full of such relationships. Do you know that even we and the healthy bacteria that live in our gut constitute such a mutually beneficial relationship?
Nature is a great teacher. It awes, inspires, and educates us in many ways. We see animals of different species working as a team to help each other out. Isn’t it something to learn and get inspired about! Let’s strive towards it so that we, too, can benefit from each other’s strength, just like the ostrich and the zebra.