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

PhD 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


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…


Laltaika honoured as a Top 100 Young African Conservation Leader

Wonderful news: Eliupendo Alaitetei Laltaika has been selected for the inaugural Top 100 Young African Conservation Leaders list announced today, celebrating those whose work “promises to leave a lasting impression in the African conservation landscape”. Congratulations, Laltaika – we’re proud to be your colleagues!

Laltaika’s citation reads, “A lion hunter as a young pastoralist turned conservationist, Eliupendo now protects the endangered rhino population of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area as a Park Ranger. He has rescued 20 wild dogs from retaliation, killing and planted over 30,000 plants via conservation clubs. He is also researching the extraordinary cooperative relationship between honeyguide birds and human honey hunters. He founded the Ngorongoro Biodiversity Conservation Project.”

Please visit to meet 99 other inspiring young conservation leaders from throughout the continent.

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Workshop on “Human-Wildlife Mutualisms”

Together with Natalie Uomini at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, we hosted a two-day online workshop on “Human-Wildlife Mutualisms”. We were joined by 40 colleagues from 14 countries to share experiences and findings, and improve our understanding of what is known about these unique partnerships. We were delighted to meet colleagues with shared interests including anthropologists, historians, conservation practitioners, and honey-hunters, as well as fellow biologists such as our colleagues in Brazil who study the fascinating cooperative partnership between fishers and bottlenose dolphins. David, Dom, Jessica, Laltaika and Claire all presented talks on our honeyguide research in Mozambique and Tanzania, as did our close collaborators Brian Wood and Anne Kandler. Several additional honey-hunter colleagues and a fisher from Brazil participated via subtitled videos.

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David returns to Niassa

David Lloyd-Jones was reunited with our main study population of honeyguides, and colleagues in the field at the Mariri Environmental Centre in the Niassa Special Reserve, when a brief visit to Mozambique became possible. After a three-day motorbike ride from his home base in Tanzania, David met with our honey-hunter colleagues and repaired their equipment, and checked in our study area which was looking lush and green in the early rainy season. This is a time of year when food supplies are low in the village, and many of our honey-hunter colleagues are busy tending to their crops whilst only going on the occasional honey-hunt.

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