African Honeyguides

Research on a remarkable
human-animal relationship

Honeyguide fieldwork in South Africa

Dec 19, 2020

Chima Nwaogu and Jessica van der Wal with greater honeyguides

Claire and Jessica, together with colleagues Dr Chima Nwaogu and Dr Gabriel Jamie, carried out pilot fieldwork at Honeywood Farm alongside Grootvadersbosch Forest in the southern Cape, South Africa. We were delighted to catch several greater and lesser honeyguides and look forward to returning for further fieldwork. Thank you to John and Miranda Moodie for their warm welcome to work on their beautiful farm. It was thrilling to see so many honeyguides so close to our home base at the University of Cape Town (and to be doing fieldwork again)!

Here Chima holds one of the young greater honeyguides we caught, in their distinctive bright yellow immature plumage.

















New collaborative paper on honeyguide-human cooperation in Kenya

In a new paper in Frontiers in Conservation Science in collaboration with Isa Gedi, we report on the honey-hunting culture with greater honeyguides of the Awer people in Kenya. Awer honey-hunters depend on wild honey as a source of income, and readily seek the cooperation of honeyguides. To attract honeyguides, they whistle on the shell of a Giant African Land Snail. We thank the interviewees for sharing their honey-hunting culture with us.

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Laltaika awarded a Distinction for his MSc dissertation

Warmest congratulations to Eliupendo Laltaika, whose MSc research dissertation “Understanding the mutualistic interaction between greater honeyguides and four co-existing human cultures in northern Tanzania” was awarded with Distinction. Laltaika will graduate with an MSc in Conservation Biology from the University of Cape Town in December, and will rejoin the Honeyguide Research Project team as a PhD student from 2022. The image shows Laltaika interviewing a Ndorobo honey-hunter in September 2020, as part of his research on the honey-hunting cultures of Maasai, Sonjo, Hadzabe and Ndorobo communities in Tanzania.

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Honours students Rion Cuthill and Cameron Blair complete projects

Congratulations to Rion Cuthill and Cameron Blair for successfully finalising their University of Cape Town Honours research dissertations hosted by our project. Rion’s thesis was titled ‘Where there is smoke, is there fire? The role of the honeyguide-human mutualism in African savannah fire ecology’ and supervised by Claire Spottiswoode and Sally Archibald. Cameron’s thesis was titled ‘Does the remarkable guiding call of the Greater Honeyguide develop from its begging call?’ and supervised Claire Spottiswoode and Jessica van der Wal.

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