African Honeyguides

Research on a remarkable
human-animal relationship

Out now: a paper on beeswax-eating animals and what this means for honeyguides

Dec 1, 2022

Honey badger eating wax

We are delighted to have a new paper on wax-eating behaviour by honeyguides and other animals published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. In this study we used camera traps to investigate which animals, other than honeyguides, fed on wax made available from the human-honeyguide mutualism, and whether larger animals feeding on this unusual food undermined the mutualism by depriving the honeyguide of its reward. Our camera trapping revealed nine wax-eating species, five of which were not previously known to consume wax. We expected that these wax-competitors could negatively affect wax availability for honeyguides, but instead found that these competitors likely stabilize the mutualism by shifting the benefits toward the early-arriving or guiding birds. A video abstract including clips of wax-eating behaviour is available on Youtube, and further media coverage can be found at New Scientist. We are also thrilled for our co-author, honey-hunter and long-term collaborator from Mbamba village, Orlando Yassene, as this is his first publication.


David presents at the Apimondia Africa Symposium

David Lloyd-Jones recently gave a talk on what honeyguides and honey-hunters have taught us about Niassa’s wild honeybee ecology at the Apimondia Africa Regional Symposium held in Durban. He was honoured to pay further tribute to Ricardo Guta and his contribution to bee research in Niassa Special Reserve. Many...

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In memory of our colleague Ricardo Guta

Ricardo Guta, our dear colleague and friend in our research team, tragically died on 1 December 2022 following a swimming accident in the Cape mountains. All our thoughts are with his wife, Lailat, and their children Adrielle and Piotr. Ricardo’s life was honoured by his colleagues in a memorial at the University of Cape Town on 9 December 2022. He will soon be laid to rest by his family in his home city of Beira, Mozambique.

Ricardo’s warm and generous personality and passion for natural history touched everyone he met. He was much loved and respected at Gorongosa National Park where he worked as an entomologist, at the University of Cape Town where he had just completed his MSc studies, and at the Niassa Special Reserve where we recently carried out a wonderful field trip together. Ricardo had just begun his PhD in our research team, studying the influence of honeyguide-human mutualism on honeybee ecology. We are heartbroken to have lost a wonderful scientist, conservationist and human being, and we miss him deeply.

Ricardo’s legacy will live on in our team as we remember his joy and optimism, and his remarkable capacity to bring people together.

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