African Honeyguides

Research on a remarkable
human-animal relationship

The Team

Dominic Cram

Dr Dominic Cram

Postdoc, University of Cambridge

Eliupendo Alaitetei Laltaika

Eliupendo Alaitetei Laltaika

MSc student, University of Cape Town
David Lloyd-Jones

David Lloyd-Jones

MSc student, University of Cape Town

Claire Spottiswoode

Professor Claire Spottiswoode

Project leader, University of Cambridge and University of Cape Town

Jessica van der Wal

Dr Jessica van der Wal

Postdoc, University of Cape Town

Projecto Sego Leadership Team

Iahaia “Mele” Buanachique

Iahaia “Mele” Buanachique

Mele is a resident of Mbamba village and been a honey-hunter since his early teens. He gets involved in night honey-harvests from baobab trees as well as following honeyguides and harvesting honey in the day. He has helped us with field work (especially following honeyguides, trapping honeyguides, and radio tracking) since 2017, when he was also the winner of our annual prize for the best data collector.

Musaji Muamedi

Musaji Muamedi

Musaji was born and raised in Nkuti village. He has honey-hunted for over a decade and has worked closely with us since 2015, when he helped extensively with playback experiments. Over the years he has helped with numerous field experiments, honeyguide trapping, and camera trapping. His extraordinary ability to spot bees’ nest is much admired. He has been part of our leadership team since its inception in 2017.

Carvalho Issa Nanguar

Carvalho Issa Nanguar

Carvalho was born and raised in Mbamba village and learnt to honey-hunt in his teens from his step father, Seliano Rucunua. He often honey-hunts together with his family; one of his wives is also a talented honey-hunter, and he and she both started working with the project in 2018. Since then Carvalho has helped us with many of our field experiments, in particular with honeyguides trapping and playback transects. 

Seliano Alberto Runcunua

Seliano Alberto Runcunua

Seliano is a life-long ‘professional’ honey-hunter who grew up to the south of Niassa and first moved to Mbamba village to find bees and harvest honey in the expansive woodlands of the reserve. He regularly honey-hunts with his wife, Fatima, who is also part of our team, and his passion for all things honey-hunting is truly infectious. He first started collecting data for the project in 2018 and won our annual prize for the best data collector in 2019, when he also joined our leadership group.

Projecto Sego Data Collection Team

Honey hunter team

Collaborators

Professor Sally Archibald

School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

We work with Sally on understanding the landscape consequences of the honeyguide-human mutualism, in particular via its impact on fire regimes.

Visit Sally’s page…

Dr Colleen Begg & Keith Begg

Niassa Carnivore Project, Mozambique

We have collaborated closely with Colleen and Keith on understanding reciprocal communication between humans and honeyguides, and they and their team at the Mariri Environmental Centre continue to crucially inspire, advise and support many aspects of our research.

Read more here…

Professor Robin Crewe

Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, South Africa

We work with Robin and his team on understanding the influence of the honeyguide-human mutualism on bee ecology.

Visit Robin’s page here…

Dr Pietro d’Amelio

FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, South Africa

We work with Pietro on bioacoustic analyses to understand cultural variation in the signals human give to honeyguides.

Visit Pietro’s page here…

Celestino Dauda

Niassa Carnivore Project, Mozambique

We work with Dauda on mapping honey-hunting culture in communities throughout the Niassa National Reserve.

Visit Celestino’s page here…

Dr Lynn Dicks

Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, UK

We work with Lynn on understanding the influence of the honeyguide-human mutualism on pollination ecosystem services.

Visit Lynn’s page here…

Professor Robert Fleischer & Dr Carly Muletz Wolz

Center for Conservation Genomics, Smithsonian Institution, USA

We work with Robert, Carly and their team on understanding how honeyguides acquire their unusual ability to digest wax.

Visit Robert and Carly’s pages…

Professor Timm Hoffman

Plant Conservation Unit, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town

We work with Timm on understanding the landscape consequences of the honeyguide-human mutualism, in particular via its impact on tree ecology.

Visit Timm’s page here…

Hermenegildo Matimele

National Herbarium, Maputo, Mozambique

We work with Hermenegildo on understanding the landscape consequences of the honeyguide-human mutualism, in particular via its impact on tree ecology.

Visit Hermenegildo’s page here…

Dr Colleen Seymour

South African National Biodiversity Institute, Cape Town, South Africa

We work with Colleen on understanding the influence of the honeyguide-human mutualism on pollination ecosystem services.

Visit Colleen’s page here…

Dr Brian Wood

Department of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany

We collaborate closely with Brian in many aspects of our work, including understanding the impact on the honeyguide-human mutualism of cultural variation in human signals in Mozambique and Tanzania, and the mutualism’s impact on human foraging ecology.

Visit Brian’s website here…

Past Colleagues

Orlando Ncuela

Projecto Sego local data manager

Antonio Ngovene

Intern, Edward O Wilson Laboratory of Biodiversity, Gorongosa National Park

Visit Antonio’s page here…

Dr James St Clair

Postdoc, University of Cambridge

Visit James’s page here…

News

Eliupendo Laltaika gives a talk in the Leadership for Conservation in Africa series

Eliupendo Laltaika gave a talk on his career journey and conservation work in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, as part of the Leadership for Conservation in Africa seminar series. Laltaika gives us great insight into his journey from killing wildlife for retaliation as a young man, through to becoming a wildlife ranger, founding a conservation NGO (the Ngorongoro Biodiversity Conservation Project), and currently doing his Masters studies at the University of Cape Town and carrying out research on honeyguide-human mutualism as part of our team.

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Dr Jessica van der Wal gives a talk on honeyguide mutualism research at the African BirdFair

Jessica van der Wal gave a talk on honeyguide-human mutualism as part of a session on research at the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, at Birdlife South Africa’s Virtual African Birdfair. Dr Gabriel Jamie gave a talk on mimicry in the parasitic finches of Africa , representing our sister research project on coevolution between brood-parasitic birds and their hosts (more information at www.AfricanCuckoos.com). See also the amazing line-up of other talks at the Virtual African BirdFair – thank you BirdLife South Africa!

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UCT student Rion Cuthill joins us for a week

This week we are joined by Rion Cuthill, a third year student at UCT studying towards a B.Sc. in Ecology and Evolution and Applied Statistics. Rion is helping us to obtain estimates of population sizes of villages in Niassa Special Reserve through remote sensing, an essential parameter to understand the economic value of the honeyguide-human mutualism, and in models trying to understand the variation in honey-hunting cultures. Rion is an avid birder and general naturalist during his spare time.
 

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