African Honeyguides

Research on a remarkable
human-animal relationship

Honey-hunter ‘capulana’

Sep 15, 2021

Sego team September 2021

Jessica collaborated with Cape Town artist Jane Solomon to produce a ‘capulana’ (a traditional Mozambican sarong) depicting a honey-hunting scene in Niassa. The capulanas were distributed among our honey-hunter colleagues in Mbamba village – the image shows the Projecto Sego team of honey-hunters with the capulana in September 2021. The objective of this initiative was to provide a form of media for honey-hunters to talk to, and hopefully enthuse, others in the village (especially the youth) about their profession. Thank you very much to the Eric Hosking Trust for their grant that supported this initiative.




Honey-hunting Research Network workshop

The Honey-hunting Research Network (coordinated by Jessica van der Wal) met in Cape Town for a very enjoyable week of analysing and comparing interview data from honey-hunting cultures across Africa, painting a picture of the human cultural variation relevant to honeyguides, and its uncertain future on a rapidly changing continent. Joining in person were Wiro-Bless Kamboe, Rochelle Mphetlhe, George M’manga, Sanele Nhlabatsi, Daniella Mhangwana, Celiwe Ngcamphalala, Claire Spottiswoode and Jessica van der Wal. Thank you to the Cultural Evolution Society Transformation Fund for funding our get-together!

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New paper on human-honeyguide cooperation and communication

A new study from the Honeyguide Research Project shows that Greater Honeyguides learn the distinct calls that honey-hunters in different parts of Africa use to communicate with them, facilitating cooperation between species. Human honey-hunters signal to honeyguides using specialised calls that vary culturally across Africa. The new study shows using field experiments in Mozambique and Tanzania that honeyguides prefer the specialised calls of the local human culture they interact with, compared to those of a foreign culture. This implies that honeyguides can adjust to human cultural diversity, increasing the benefits of cooperation for both people and birds.

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