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Photo Information
Copyright: Loot Eksteen (loot) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-04-06
Categories: Mammals, Savannah
Camera: Canon EOS 350D, Sigma 170-500mm f/5-6.3 AF APO Ultra DG, Digital ISO 200, UV 86mm Kenko
Exposure: f/6.3, 1/320 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Wildlife of Africa, Mammals of Africa, Mammals of Southern Africa II, A study in Mammalogy (mammals) 1, A study in Ornithology (birds) 1, 80-89 Points I, Haraprasan's Favs, Alex99's favorite shots, Birds of South Africa 3, uMkhuze Game Reserve 1, Outstanding [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-07-25 16:50
Viewed: 23307
Favorites: 8 [view]
Points: 94
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Impala - Aepyceros melampus and
Redbilled oxpecker - Buphagus erythrorhynchus

This impala and its little oxpecker friend were photographed from within the hide at the Kwamalibala waterhole in the uMkhuze Game Reserve. The hide is situated ±3km from the Emshopi entrance gate on route to the Mantuma main camp.

At this waterhole, one can enjoy an interesting and normally action-packed morning or afternoon watching the various wildlife as it rambles in to quench its thirst. A great variety of animals such as: giraffe, zebra, impala, nyala, kudu, waterbuck, blue-wildebeest, rhino, various bird species, lots of insects, terrapins, etc. are to be found at this waterhole and there is always something exciting going on.

The waterhole may contain any appreciable amount of water; thus attracting a steady stream of animals coming to drink. This normally provides for excellent photographic opportunities from within the hide.

I am sure you might agree that enough have already been said about the two species depicted on the photo. There are a number of postings on the site that gave full descriptions of impala and oxpeckers. So, I will direct the notes towards another phenomenon in nature – symbiosis. Figuratively speaking, something which we probably can benefit from here at TrekNature, on the moment. Although the photo do not depict full symbiosis it do however show an aspect of co-existence which link up with mutualism.

The term symbiosis commonly describes close and often long-term interactions between different biological species. The term was first used in 1879 by the German mycologist, Heinrich Anton de Bary, who defined it as: "the living together of unlike organisms".

The definition of symbiosis is flexible and the term has been applied to a wide range of biological interactions. The symbiotic relationship may be categorised as being mutualistic, parasitic, or commensal in nature.

Symbiotic relationships included those associations in which one organisms lives on another (ectosymbiosis, such as mistletoe), or where one partner lives inside another (endosymbiosis, such as lactobacilli and other bacteria in humans). Symbiotic relationships may be either obligate, i.e., necessary to the survival of at least one of the organisms involved, or facultative, where the relationship is beneficial but not essential to survival of the organisms.

Physical interaction
Endosymbiosis, is any symbiotic relationship in which the symbiote lives within the tissues of the host. Examples are nitrogen-fixing bacteria which live in root nodules, single-celled algae inside reef-building corals, and bacterial endosymbionts that provide essential nutrients to about 10%–15% of insects.

Ectosymbiosis, also referred to as exosymbiosis, is any symbiotic relationship in which the symbiont lives on the body surface of the host. Examples of this include ectoparasites such as lice, commensal ectosymbionts, such as the barnacles that attach themselves to the jaw of baleen whales, and mutualist ectosymbionts such as cleaner fish.

The term Mutualism describes any relationship between individuals of different species where both individuals derive a fitness benefit. Mutualistic relationships may be either obligate for both species, obligate for one but facultative for the other, or facultative for both. Many biologists restrict the definition of symbiosis to close mutualist relationships.

A large percentage of herbivores have mutualistic gut fauna that help them digest plant matter, which is more difficult to digest than animal prey. Another example is the goby fish, which sometimes lives together with a shrimp. The shrimp digs and cleans up a burrow in the sand in which both the shrimp and the goby fish live. The shrimp is almost blind leaving it vulnerable to predators when above ground. In case of danger the goby fish touches the shrimp with its tail to warn it. When that happens both the shrimp and goby fish quickly retract into the burrow.

Commensalism describes a relationship between two living organisms where one benefits and the other is not significantly harmed or helped. It is derived from the English word commensal, meaning the sharing of food, and used of human social interaction.

Commensal relationships may involve an organism using another for transportation (phoresy), for housing (inquilinism), or it may also involve an organism using something another created, after the death of the first (metabiosis). An example is the hermit crabs that use gastropod shells to protect their bodies. Further examples include spiders building their webs on trees.

A parasitic relationship is one in which one member of the association benefits while the other is harmed. Parasitic symbioses take many forms, from endoparasites that live within the host's body, to ectoparasites that live on its surface. In addition, parasites may be necrotrophic, which is to say they kill their host, or biotrophic, meaning they rely on their host surviving.

Symbiosis played a major role in the co-development of flowering plants and the animals that pollinate them. Many plants that are pollinated by insects, bats or birds, have very specialised flowers modified to promote pollination by a specific pollinator that is also correspondingly adapted. Some groups of plants developed nectar and large sticky pollen while insects evolved more specialised morphologies to access and collect these rich food sources. Source

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop CS2.

rcrick, vanderschelden, Shoot_Score, marhowie, Pentaxfriend, haraprasan, uleko, horia, Juyona, GLEM, albert, sandpiper2, maurydv, saguzar, sranjan, Alex99, anilnediyara, robindb, Miss_Piggy, Aaltjie, ramthakur, pilonm, Dyker, betsie, SunToucher, Rehanna, boreocypriensis, bobcat08, goldyrs has marked this note useful
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Add Critique [Critiquing Guidelines] 
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To peter_stoeckl: Then there was the birdloot 2 07-30 11:50
To marhowie: The name of this gameloot 2 07-29 19:40
To Aaltjie: And then there were 2loot 1 07-29 06:25
To ramthakur: Thought-provoking readloot 1 07-29 06:14
To Janice: Right way uploot 2 07-28 23:10
To Shoot_Score: Natterings & sleepy eyed viewings of twisteloot 3 07-26 00:00
To Bac: Thank Youloot 1 07-25 23:47
To uleko: Little passengerloot 1 07-25 23:46
To haraprasan: Impala portraitloot 1 07-25 23:42
To Pentaxfriend: Thank Youloot 1 07-25 23:22
To claudine: Always in the pictureloot 1 07-25 23:20
To vanderschelden: Kwamalibala waterholeloot 1 07-25 23:13
To rcrick: Popped uploot 1 07-25 23:10
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • rcrick Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor [C: 692 W: 40 N: 5] (68)
  • [2008-07-25 17:00]
  • [2] [+]

Hi Loot,

I was just about to shut down when this popped up, what an amazing shot, the detail is just superb, composition and framing perfect, the colour in the eye of the Redbilled Oxpecker is unreal congratulations on a superb image, all the best,

Cheers Rick :)

Hello Loot,
Nicely done! Besides the symbiosis content, I do like the 'subtropical' lighting. The latter is very moody. THe moment is great as well of course , not only through the aforementioned content but also because of two reasons: the sharp bird and the 'open' eye which tells a lot about his feelings towards his visitor.
The DOF is a bit shallow 'northwards' but that's a minor nit.
Good work again at the Kwamalibala waterhole. Wonderful name:-)

Hi Loot,
This is such a wonderful capture with excellent composition and timing! I love this unusual pose of the bird. They always amazed me. I have seen them in Annick's pictures as well and as I said to him, this guy always manages to be in the picture, lol! Funny and well done with interesting notes. Thanks,

Hi Loot,

Fantastic shot
Excellent POV, light, compo and colors
SUPERB sharp details

TFS Thijs

Symbiosis is a wonderful "feature" in Nature...

Humans could learn a lot by observing very closely the "help and be helped" method that we see in action here!

I really like this moment you captured here, as it is not the usual bird on the back of a bovine like animal... and on top of that [ oops wrong direction!!! ] we see that nice splash of colour!

Great presentation!

Dankie vrindt!

PS HAd to edit my stuff, as I had typos, 'cause someone was nattering in my ear!

Hi Loot,
This is one of the best portrait I have ever seen of an Impala. Very good DOF maintained here and I know how difficult it is to maintain the same at f/6.3. Very good focus on both the subjects. But in my view may be a little more tight framing on the right would have looked more(just personal). Well done Sir. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2008-07-25 22:57]
  • [+]

Hello Loot,
Great capture of this beautiful Impala with a nice little passenger doing the cleaning up. I've never seen an Oxpecker in this fantastic position before and the Impala seems to love its company! Excellent sharp details and beautiful warm colours. Good timing and nicely framed.
TFS and regards, Ulla

  • Great 
  • Bac Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 93 W: 3 N: 33] (486)
  • [2008-07-25 23:33]
  • [+]

HI loot,

Very interesting shot, with sharpness and colours, i like it. TFS.


  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2008-07-26 0:30]

Hi Loot

Very elegant and precise, as usual...the perfect timing for a photo such as this :)
Splendid work and amazing shot, indeed! I really like the sharpness of this great close-up and the clarity on both the impala and the oxpecker. Their poses are simply fantastic and therefore i must also congratulate you for the perfect timing of your shot.
Other than that, the natural colors are lovely - attractive and very well saturated by the warm light of the sun - while the DOF is spot-on, giving you that terrific uniform BG.

I'm sure TN folks (and maybe not only) will read your note and try to learn something frmo animals.
Well done, my friend!

Bravo and TFS

  • Great 
  • Juyona Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor [C: 2232 W: 10 N: 2971] (16891)
  • [2008-07-26 1:03]

Hola Loot,
realmente original,
perfecto y oportuno disparo,
excelente foco y pose del ave, :))

  • Great 
  • GLEM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor [C: 540 W: 87 N: 750] (10)
  • [2008-07-26 1:20]

hi Loot,
fantastic image, il faut avoir le coup d'oeil et de bon reflexes. Excellente qualité de couleur et de lumière, c'est vraiment une image rare.


Baie mooi skoot loot!

Hello Loot,
You have been very patient...or lucky to get this pose of the redbilled oxpecker !the impala looks very satisfied too
Congratulations on this superb photo and thanks for the detailed note
Have a nice W-E

Hi Loot,

Great capture with excellent exposure, DOF, POV and sharpness.
Well done

Hi Loot

Stunning shot, you really have become a master of composition since you joined TN. Even better you share you knowledge and work with everyone else.

This is a great study. The two organisms working in harmony, great stuff. Superb composition. Brilliant sharpness and details. TFS


What a fantastic capture. I bet you are proud of this one. That's one thing about photography...there is always the next shot...that can be better or different. There's always a challenge.

Evelynn : )

Ciao Loot,
fantastico e spettacolare momento di cattura, eccellenti POV e DOF, bellissima composizione che esalta questa reciproca collaborazione: l'uccello acrobata libera dai parassiti il paziente impala; straordinaria definizione dei dettagli, magnifici i colori e BG.
Grazie e complimenti.

Merhaba Loot,cok sıcak bir izlenim veriyor.Bir ortak yasam örnegi.Ustelik cok net,isik harika,ellerine saglik,selamlar :)

Hola Loot!!!
Tanto tiempo sin ver tu buena galería. Pienso que esta es una de tus mejores fotos, primero por la gran calidad y acercamiento y segundo por la situación captada. El título muy imaginativo (algo excesivo lo de simbiosis, je, je; pero lo explicas muy bien en tu extensa y útil nota). Nunca vi un ave pendiendo de la barbilla de su "despensa andante" de garrapatas e insectos, me da algo de gracia la "cara de nada" del antílope, como si no tuviera ninguna visita.
Espero poder participar más y comentar más fotos, estoy algo alejado últimamente de TN.
Un abarzo cordial

Hello Loot,
Excellent composite image of impala and its little oxpecker :). Sharpness, POV & details are perfect with usual educational grand notes by you.TFS.
Regards-Dr Subhash Ranjan

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2008-07-27 4:49]

Hi Loot.
I cannot believe that I see it and I cannot believe that you managed to picture this stunning rare scene. I only can believe that you can create such masterpieces as this one. Outstanding in every aspect job. All is brilliant. My congratulations and Bravo hundred times.

Hy is pragtig!!

I love the way the bird holds on for dear life.

Nature's way of showing us how to get along.

Technically their is nothing wrong.

Love it!!

Hello Loot,

I liked the timing of your post :) The notes do have a lot of significance to TN. BTW the photo is excellent as usual. Thank you for the message and sharing the picture.

Hi Loot
Hierdie is 'n baie besonderse foto. Fantasties hoe jy die kleure laat saamsmelt het. Jou notas hier is ook BAIE insiggewend.
Sien uit na jou volgende foto.

Hi Loot,

Mooi en skerp. Gooie kommentaar ook.



Hallo Loot
This is indeed a great facial shot of an impala. Clarity and display of the details is super and presented in a most pleasant manner. The eye in particular is a great attraction. Adding to this is the little Oxpecker going for a free ride. It does not seem as if the Impala is bothered with the little bird at all, and the upside down position adds a sparkle to this beautiful image. I must compliment you on the clarity shown of the beak and eye of the tiny bird. The colours are vivid and show well. Focus, sharpness and composition is tops. I like the colour of the background which highlights the beauty of this elegant animal even more. This buck surely has a set of horns to be proud of. Your notes are most interesting and I always find it very educational. Thanks for sharing.

A good photo depends a lot on luck and patience. In all the years of photographing or trying to get a good shot of an oxpecker doing its job, I have never been successful. I always seem to get only part of the bird, the rest of it being obscured by the animal it is sitting on.This is as good a shot as anyone will ever get, well done!

Dear Loot
Really beautiful. Great colours, textures, details, and a touch of everything else captured in this scenery. You must have been very patient but also very quick to press the shutter as I know these birds do not sit still on a spot for very long. A lovely portrait of a shot and pose where you caught two for the price of one. Great timing and perfection as always. You striked the bulls eye there, the shot that many envy and a shot I would like to get. You have captured the buck right in a lovely view point making it more beautiful and more eye catching. You are very lucky to be living so close to the game reserve, and can take so many wonderful natural photos of the animals. Please don’t ever stop sharing, as it is always appreciated.
God Bless
Aaltjie and Hettie

  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2008-07-28 22:09]
  • [+]

Hey Loot, your photo is upside down!!

This is a fantastic shot, super colours and sharp details.

But I would have given you 2 smileys if you had posted it the right way up :)

Best regards

The Symbiosis between the Impala and the Oxpecker is just perfect in this highly eloqent image, Loot.
The bird seems to have been made to size and fits the part of Impala's anatomy like the proverbial glove.
Your note on Symbiosis makes a thought-provoking read.
Thanks and regards.

Just stopping by for a quick one Loot,
I see things are looking up for the oxpecker, with symbiosis the name of this game..
The two appear physically in opposition, but in reality they couldn't be closer buddies :)
Excellent image, this one has that something special we're all lookin' for.

Hello Loot,

Ah! Ah! I think you flipped the image because I suspect that it is the picture of a bird with an impala under his throat ;-)

I really like your note about symbiosis which is so important within wildlife!

Here you did a splendid vertical composition and managed excellently the exposition. I like also the blurred bg showing us the desertic environment. Details on the fur are remarkable too. The only thing maybe is the fact that the left horn is too near the frame. If it is a full frame picture, you can easily add canvas with Photoshop where you can add more bg.

But it is definitly a lovely image that I like alot!

Great job, Loot and TFS!


Hi dear Loot ,
Great work as always.
Excellent moment.
A perfect shot.
Kind regards

Dear Loot,

a busy internet today, a slow download, the image appearing slowly starting on top. Time enough to enjoy that lonesome antelope's perfect pose, the lack of bright colours in gently soft hues of ochre and umbra, a classical portrait's perfectly minimalistic reduction to nothing but the person and a neutral background.

And then there was the bird!
Lots of laughter, great stuff!

With thanks, and all my best wishes,

P.S.: Superb notes, educative, well written and wise, as always from you. I like your clearly expressed thoughts about symbiosis in an era of human behaviour distorted by decades of neo-liberal nonsense about competition and reckless pursuit of all kinds of egotism. Let's learn from the animals how to achieve mutual benefit the easygoing way.

  • Great 
  • Dyker Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 136 W: 0 N: 57] (170)
  • [2008-07-31 2:58]

Hello Loot
The blending of all the colours of the background, the impala and the oxpecker gives this photo real spark. That lovely yellow-ringed eye with the red centre and the red beak are the only items that depart from the overall ochre - yellowish-brown, orangey or tawny - and the isolated dashes of black colours. The focus is excellent on both the impala and the bird and the upright composition showed the impala in the best possible way. Thanks for showing.

Hi Loot,
This must be one of the most original photos on TN. I've seen photos of mamals with birds on them before, but never in this acrobatic position. Its like the impala finally found the perfect touthbrush for this day.

Quality wise the photo is perfect. The details in both animals is spot on and the OOF BG gives the photo a wonderful touch of serenity.

Hello Loot

Ek het agtergekom dat daar die een of ander bohaai op die werf aan die gang is, maar ek kon nog nie mooi agter die kap van die byl kom nie. Dit lyk egter of ek dalk vir jou 'n probleem kon verskaf het. Ek sal tog maar poog om 'n bietjie wyer kritiek te lewer, maar ek het dit gedoen vir my plesier omdat ek van jou fotos en jou notas hou en basta.

So is hierdie rooibok en sy renostervoël maaitjie iets besonders. Ek moet terdeë saamstem met die vorige persoon want hierdie is heel oorspronklik. Ek wonder net of die diere dan nie seer kry as die voël so vasgryp met daardie skerp naëls nie. Net een woord verder en dit is pragtig.


Hi my beloved friend Loot,
A superb capture showing the collaborative relation between the two different animal, Impala and Redbilled oxpecker. Your notes are excellent too. TFS.
Greetings from TR N. Cyprus

Hello Loot,

I was just about to shut down when this popped up via my favorites (your are one of 10) What a compo and what a amazing clarity Loot. How do you managed this. Great. Great capture of this beautiful Impala.

And of course a very very interesting notes, just always.

Thanks for sharing TFS BOB

This is such a wonderful capture with excellent composition and timing!

This is one of the best shots I've ever seen, my dear friend, Loot!It feels so nice to be back, tolearn more, I felt homesick for most of this vacation!
Thanks so much for sharing this lovely portrait!

  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2008-08-29 22:04]

Hello Loot,
Greetings and warm regards.
what amagnificent shot . Great clarity and harpness, well composed and outstanding composition with the story of the two friends living together in peace.
Great shot with excellent presentation for a nature world. congratulations!


Hi Loot,
Great capture of this symbiotic relation. Very nnice exposure showing supurb detail and warm colors throughout.
There are times where I wish I had my own oxpecker hanging out with me in the jungle when I'm getting nailed by mosquitos but then there are none in South America, so I'll just have to rely on DEET and try to remember to put the toxic crap on everytime I'm in the Amazon.
Paul :)

Hi Loot,
amazing shot! Nothing more to say...
TFS Tatjana

amazing portrait, TFS Ori

  • Great 
  • deons Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 58 W: 0 N: 55] (595)
  • [2012-09-11 2:18]

Hi Loot

Amazing photo, sharp and nice soft background.

TFS Deon


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