African Honeyguides

Research on a remarkable
human-animal relationship

Honeyguides at the International Bioacoustics Conference

Oct 31, 2023

Guiding Honeguide calling

Claire Spottiswoode gave a plenary talk entitled “Show me the honey: communication between people and wild birds in Africa” at the International Bioacoustics Conference in Sapporo, Japan. Many thanks to Dr Masayo Soma for this wonderful opportunity to share our team’s research on honeyguides and the followers, and to learn a lot from the IBAC community.


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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Laltaika carrying out field experiments in Tanzania

Eliupendo Laltaika is hard at work with his field experiments in southern Tanzania, assisted by Ndorobo honey-hunters Mboyo Lemoho and Lelia Olapi, and currently hosted by the beekeeping community of Mwamagembe village in the Rungwa region. Laltaika’s experiments at a range of site in southern Tanzania aim to find out how learning hones honeyguides’ understanding of different human sounds.

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