By Sara Malm
This impala is looking mighty proud showing off it’s unconventional ‘earrings’, in the shape of two oxpecker birds.
But the fashion forward move, spotted in Kruger National Park, South Africa, was not just down to the bird’s brightly coloured beaks.
The red-billed oxpecker and the mammals roaming the sub-Saharan plains have a mutually benefiting relationship where the birds feed on ticks and other ectoparasites from the animals’ fur.
This cleans the mammals’ fur, but the birds do not stop there; they also eat earwax and dandruff and clean old wounds.
The oxpeckers are completely dependent on large mammals and spend most of their lives in their pelts.
A fully grown oxpecker can devour up to 100 ticks and 12,000 tick larvae a day.
Aside from providing the birds with parasites and other treats, the mammals’ fur provides building material for their nests.
The photographs of the impala and its oxpecker earrings were taken by South African photographer and writer Villiers Steyn, 30.
Travelling extensively in his work, alongside partner Tabby, he regularly frequents Kruger National Park to capture nature at its best.