African Honeyguides

Research on a remarkable
human-animal relationship

Amana Kilawi Othman

Amana Kilawi Othman


I grew up in Songea, a region in the south of Tanzania, adjacent to Selous Game Reserve. The biodiversity-rich ecosystem surrounding the area drives my passion for wildlife and biodiversity conservation. I hold an undergraduate degree from the College of African Wildlife Management (Mweka) in Tanzania, during which I researched the influence of water sources’ entry points on birds’ species diversity at Lake Manyara National Park. I have also worked as a project coordinator for the Ngorongoro Biodiversity Conservation Project. Following my involvement in Eliupendo Laltaika’s fieldwork on honey-hunting cultures in northern Tanzania in 2020 as a field assistant, I am dedicated to research human-honeyguide mutualism further, this time in southern Tanzania. In 2022, I joined the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town as an MSc student in Conservation Biology.


Research focus

My research focus is on understanding the ‘cold spots’ in the mosaic of human-honeyguide mutualism in Tanzania. Specifically, I want to better understand honeyguide behaviour in places where there are honeyguides but no people (such as Ruaha National Park and Rungwa Game Reserve), and where there are both honeyguides and people, but people are not cooperating with the birds. I plan to conduct interviews in several communities in southern Tanzania that honey-hunt without the help of honeyguides, to understand why they don’t cooperate with honeyguides. Moreover, I will be investigating honey production in these communities, both from wild honey-hunting and beekeeping activities. 


David presents at the Apimondia Africa Symposium

David Lloyd-Jones recently gave a talk on what honeyguides and honey-hunters have taught us about Niassa’s wild honeybee ecology at the Apimondia Africa Regional Symposium held in Durban. He was honoured to pay further tribute to Ricardo Guta and his contribution to bee research in Niassa Special Reserve. Many...

read more

In memory of our colleague Ricardo Guta

Ricardo Guta, our dear colleague and friend in our research team, tragically died on 1 December 2022 following a swimming accident in the Cape mountains. All our thoughts are with his wife, Lailat, and their children Adrielle and Piotr. Ricardo’s life was honoured by his colleagues in a memorial at the University of Cape Town on 9 December 2022. He will soon be laid to rest by his family in his home city of Beira, Mozambique.

Ricardo’s warm and generous personality and passion for natural history touched everyone he met. He was much loved and respected at Gorongosa National Park where he worked as an entomologist, at the University of Cape Town where he had just completed his MSc studies, and at the Niassa Special Reserve where we recently carried out a wonderful field trip together. Ricardo had just begun his PhD in our research team, studying the influence of honeyguide-human mutualism on honeybee ecology. We are heartbroken to have lost a wonderful scientist, conservationist and human being, and we miss him deeply.

Ricardo’s legacy will live on in our team as we remember his joy and optimism, and his remarkable capacity to bring people together.

read more