African Honeyguides

Research on a remarkable
human-animal relationship

Laltaika carrying out field experiments in Tanzania

Oct 6, 2023

Laltaika, Mboyo and Lelia
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. The image shows Laltaika at work with Mboyo and Lelia, calibrating his experimental playback sounds.


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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