The return of the yellow-billed oxpecker

We were most lucky to see a yellow-billed oxpecker. This bird is rare, although its counterpart the red-billed oxpecker is quite common and is mostly seen clinging to mammals such as antelope “doing its duty” cleaning off the ticks and small parasites. The yellow-billed oxpecker was officially declared extinct in South Africa back in 1987 as a result of rinderpest and the harmful cattle dip used by farmers. It wasn’t until just over 80 years later that they were seen again in Kruger National Park at Shingwedzi (and this was without human intervention). The yellow-billed oxpeckers are found in an area spanning from Senegal to Sudan – but thankfully they have also returned to us in South Africa again. Their numbers are said to have increased over the past 37 years but they remain an unusual sight.