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…


New collaborative paper on honeyguide-human cooperation in Kenya

In a new paper in Frontiers in Conservation Science in collaboration with Isa Gedi, we report on the honey-hunting culture with greater honeyguides of the Awer people in Kenya. Awer honey-hunters depend on wild honey as a source of income, and readily seek the cooperation of honeyguides. To attract honeyguides, they whistle on the shell of a Giant African Land Snail. We thank the interviewees for sharing their honey-hunting culture with us.

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Laltaika awarded a Distinction for his MSc dissertation

Warmest congratulations to Eliupendo Laltaika, whose MSc research dissertation “Understanding the mutualistic interaction between greater honeyguides and four co-existing human cultures in northern Tanzania” was awarded with Distinction. Laltaika will graduate with an MSc in Conservation Biology from the University of Cape Town in December, and will rejoin the Honeyguide Research Project team as a PhD student from 2022. The image shows Laltaika interviewing a Ndorobo honey-hunter in September 2020, as part of his research on the honey-hunting cultures of Maasai, Sonjo, Hadzabe and Ndorobo communities in Tanzania.

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Honours students Rion Cuthill and Cameron Blair complete projects

Congratulations to Rion Cuthill and Cameron Blair for successfully finalising their University of Cape Town Honours research dissertations hosted by our project. Rion’s thesis was titled ‘Where there is smoke, is there fire? The role of the honeyguide-human mutualism in African savannah fire ecology’ and supervised by Claire Spottiswoode and Sally Archibald. Cameron’s thesis was titled ‘Does the remarkable guiding call of the Greater Honeyguide develop from its begging call?’ and supervised Claire Spottiswoode and Jessica van der Wal.

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