African Honeyguides

Research on a remarkable
human-animal relationship

Fieldwork underway in the Niassa Special Reserve, Mozambique

Jun 22, 2023

Mama Fatima
Fatima Balasani (pictured with a male honeyguide briefly captured), Carvalho Issa Nanguar, David Lloyd-Jones, Jess Lund, Seliano Rucunua and Claire Spottiswoode have just completed a very successful period of fieldwork together in the Niassa Special Reserve, Mozambique, tagging honeyguides and collecting data on the ecosystem role of honey-hunting with honeyguides in relation to bee and tree populations. As always, we thank the Mbamba village community, Mariri Environmental Centre, and Administração Nacional das Áreas de Conservação for their kindness and support.


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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