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Community in the Natural World

Natural World Safaris

Amazon Rose

23 Mar 2020


In a time where everyone is encouraged to #bekind and show a sense of community we’ll be taking a weekly look at examples we can learn from in the natural world. Follow this blog for your weekly update of community in the natural world!

Sperm Whales Adopt a Disabled Bottlenose Dolphin

Ecologists at the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries discovered a surprising addition had been made to a group of sperm whales found swimming off the coast of the Azores. A bottlenose dolphin with a spine deformity appeared to have been taken in by the group and was seen foraging, playing and interacting freely with the whales and their calves. Whether the dolphin had been taken in because of its deformity was unclear, however there seemed to be a genuine connection between the animals as the dolphin rubbed against the whales who would then return the gesture. Sperm whales are not known for their interactions with other species, however temporary alliances between animals are thought to be forged for protection purposes, foraging benefits or simply to satisfy a desire for company.

Dolphin jumping

Ostriches and Zebras

The unlikely pair this week are ostriches and zebras who can often be seen wandering the African savannah side by side. These animals group together in order to play on each other's strengths, make up for their own weaknesses and in the process be forewarned of predators. Zebras have bad eyesight while ostriches have good eyesight, meanwhile ostriches have a poor sense of smell and hearing, and visa versa for zebras. As a pack, each species looks out for the other in a sense sharing, mutually beneficial situation, also known as mutualism.

St Ostrich

Honeyguide birds, honey badgers and humans

This week presents another example of the harmonious mutualism nature executes so beautifully. It is said that a honeyguide bird will lead a honey badger to a bees nest, as it is unable to retract the contents for itself. The honey badger then opens the nest with its powerful claws and feeds on the honey, leaving the remains for the bird. The honeyguide bird has been well documented to lead another species to honey – humans! Honeyguide birds have formed symbiotic relationships with local hunters in Mozambique, the hunters are led by the birds to the nest, they then scale the trees to harvest the honey and leave the sticky wax and larvae for the birds to feast on.

Honey Badgers In Kalahari Dana Allen Kalahari Plains Camp

Elephant families

Elephants are known for the intimate bonds and strong emotional connections they form within their families and herds, thus they are an excellent example of animals who support each other. Elephant herds are matriarchal meaning they are led by an older female. Mother elephants take turns babysitting the calves, looking out for other elephant babies as well as their own, the survival rate for a calf also greatly increases when it is looked after by additional female elephants. These emotional creatures have even been known to grieve their dead and if a herd has to separate they will call to each other over great distances.

St Elephants

Wombats during the bushfires

In the recent tragedy and darkness of the Australian bushfires, it was the wombat which provided some light in its empathy and support of other animals. Wombats live in burrows deep underground, which were far enough below the surface to be kept safe from the fires. Whilst the flames raged in the forests and destroyed many habitats, wombats allowed other animals to take refuge from the flames in their burrows, saving many from a grisly fate. A variety of animals have been recorded to be sharing a wombat’s burrow even when there is no threat from fires!

St Wombat

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