Why Zebra and Wildebeest (Gnu) are best buddies in the African Savanna
Inter-species Relationships | Botswana Wildlife Guide Zebra and Wildebeest are found together on the African savanna grazing different parts of the same grass. Not only do the birds help the animals limit parasites but they also warn the. Stopping so we could watch the zebras and wildebeests migrating from Help us, Lord, to work together With the gifts that You bestow; Give us. Occurrence of groups of wildebeest and zebra in the different habitats of of wildebeest and zebra groups at the landscape level directly support the .. Habitat-specific relationship between group size and the probability of.
Thus, landscape-level grouping dynamics are species specific and particular to the composition of the group, arising from a tradeoff between maximizing resource selection and minimizing predation risk.
Introduction Group formation is common in animals but the size and composition of groups are temporally and spatially dynamic, and depend on the relative costs and benefits of grouping.Kenya Safari '11 - zebra & wildebeest
Individuals in larger groups benefit from collective vigilance, cooperative defense, and dilution and confusion effects which can reduce predation risk .
Groups also gain benefits for resource acquisition  via information about environmental quality gained through social foraging . These benefits of grouping are weighed against the costs of sharing food and of increased probability of being detected by predators . Often, the antipredator benefits of grouping may outweigh resource acquisition and social benefits .
Given these trade-offs, groups should vary in size and composition, and be non-uniform in their distribution across the landscape .
Zebra attack wildebeest calf - Africa Geographic
Environmental characteristics that affect the cost-benefit trade-off of grouping vary in space and time. Thus, in species where grouping is an antipredator strategy, group size and membership should depend on key factors such as the level of predation risk, habitat conditions and season. For example, forming larger groups may be more effective against stalking predators than ambush predators, especially since stalking predators often target individual prey  or smaller groups .
Furthermore, larger groups should be favored in open habitats to counteract the unavoidable danger of being detected by predators while smaller groups can reduce their probability of being detected in forested habitats .
Predation risk also changes with season and breeding status . For example, adult males of African ungulates are most at risk during the mating season while adult females suffer highest predation risk during late gestation and immediately following parturition . Therefore, vulnerability to predation risk should also depend on the composition of the group.
The Wildebeest Migration Explained - Mahlatini musings
In cercopithecoid primates, group composition is skewed towards adult males under conditions of high predation risk while studies of free ranging fish show that individuals actively alter shoal composition  to reduce predation risk as well as food competition . Thus group size and composition should not only change with environmental conditions, but the location of groups should alter to minimize predation risk for individuals in the group.
Some of the most well studied and dramatic examples of grouping are seen in gregarious ungulates in the grassland and open scrub habitats of the African savanna . However, group dynamics and the trade-offs that affect grouping of African ungulates in closed habitats or dense vegetation are less well understood.
The River Crossings The famous spectacle of the crossing at the Grumeti and Mara Rivers has been well documented by film makers and photographers. Forced on by the power of the herd the wildebeest have no choice but to take a suicidal plunge into the crocodile infested waters often drowning in their thousands. How can I witness the Migration? There is no real right or wrong time to visit East Africa see the migration as each season offers its own highlights. It is, however, important to be in the right area at the right time of year.
Jan — Early Mar Serengeti This is the season when the wildebeest calves are born over a week period, making it one of the most popular times to visit the Serengeti.
As there is an abundance of food around in the form of defenceless young wildebeest, sightings of lions, hyenas, and other predators are particularly good during this time. Thankfully because so many calves are born in such a short time the predators do not have time to eat them all.
The Wildebeest Migration Explained
During these months it is best to choose a camp or lodge in the southern plains of the Serengeti or Ngorongoro Conversation Area. This will be the height of the rainy season. By July the countless herds have amassed along the swollen Mara River — a final barrier from the short sweet grasses of the Masai Mara. Be warned that catching a crossing is unpredictable as the timing and duration varies widely each year. In some years where there has been little rain, few wildebeest actually cross the Mara River into Kenya.
Zebra and Wildebeest are found together on the African savanna grazing different parts of the same grass. The Zebra grazes the harder parts of the plant whereas the Wildebeest prefers the softer parts. A Zebra will move into an area of long grass before other herbivores and eat grass down to allow for new growth that is suitable for Wildebeest. Is this a symbiotic animal relationship or merely an interaction by design? Blood-sucking Birds It was always considered that Oxpeckers formed a symbiotic relationship with the mammals they fed on, a mutually beneficial relationship, and when watching them feeding on ticks and other skin parasites it obvious that the benefits are there for both species.
Not only do the birds help the animals limit parasites but they also warn the animals of danger by flying off screeching at danger. Recently, however, it has been discovered that Oxpeckers also pick at the wounds of animals, keeping them open and drinking the blood of the animals. This is semi-parasitic behaviour and the debate is whether the Oxpecker is of benefit or harm to its' host.
Zebra attack wildebeest calf
Personal observations tend to point toward the fact that the feeding on wounds and blood, although not uncommon, is not the norm and therefore the relationship is still of benefit to both species. The egret will feed on insects disturbed by the animal moving and pick parasites off the animal. The Buffalo is the most common mammal that shares a relationship with the egret.
Egrets will ride on the backs of Buffalo and can act as a warning system.