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The Big Dry:

Oxpeckers Take Advantage of Their Hippo Hosts

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»The Drought Begins

Oxpeckers Take Advantage of Their Hippo Hosts

Short | 02:21

Oxpeckers perform a valuable service to hippos, keeping their skin free of ticks and dead skin. But they've also been known to keep host wounds open, so they can feed off the flesh.

More About This episode

The dry season has just begun in one of Africa's great ecosystems. Due to El Nino conditions, the drought will be more intense than usual. As temperatures soar, each day gets harder to survive. Creatures large and small must battle for precious resources. For some animals, like the world's largest population of hippos, drought is an existential threat. But for those ready to exploit it, like the vultures and storks that feast on the carcasses of animals that couldn't survive, the dry season provides an unexpected bounty.

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