African Honeyguides

Research on a remarkable
human-animal relationship

Eliupendo Alaitetei Laltaika

Eliupendo Alaitetei Laltaika

Biography

I was born and raised in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania. In my childhood I interacted with the forest scenes, wildlife sounds and smells. They were very much a part of my life, and all of them molded my passion and enthusiasm for working in conservation. I served 8 years as a Park Ranger in the Ministry of Nature and Tourism in Tanzania. This included two years as a Biodiversity Technician from the college of African Wildlife Management, Mweka. Following my park ranger career, I went on work in different anti-poaching operations with Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Tanzania Wildlife Authority, as well as provide protection of Rhino conservation. In 2020, I joined the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town as an MSc student in Conservation Biology.

Research focus

My research interest is on the mutualistic interactions between humans and the greater honeyguide in northern Tanzania. Specifically, I plan to document and compare the honey-hunting culture of several coexisting human cultural groups in northern Tanzania who all rely heavily on honey, with a particular focus on the Maasai, as well as the Datoga, Sonja, and Hadzabe people. I plan to investigate the sounds used by these different groups to communicate with honeyguides; to investigate honey-harvesting practices such as the use of means other than fire to subdue bees; and how these and other aspects of honey-hunting culture are shared between generations, and so the future of the bird-human relationship in this part of Africa.

Peer-reviewed publications

  • van der Wal, J.E.M., Afan, A.I., Anyawire, M., Begg, C.M., Begg, K.S., Dabo, G.A., Gedi, I.I., Harris, J.A., Isack, H.A., Ibrahim, J.I., Jamie, G.A., Kamboe, W.-B.W., Kilawi, A.O., Kingston, A., Laltaika, E.A., Lloyd-Jones, D.J., M’manga, G.M., Muhammad, N.Z., Ngcamphalala, C.A., Nhlabatsi, S.O., Oleleteyo, T.T., Sanda, M., Tsamkxao, L., Wood, B.M., Spottiswoode, C.N., Cram, D.L. 2023 Do honey badgers and greater honeyguide birds cooperate to access bees’ nests? Ecological evidence and honey-hunter accounts. Journal of Zoology 321: 22-32 DOI: 10.1111/jzo.13093 Read abstract in English and Kiswahili here
  • Cram, D.L., van der Wal, J.E.M., Uomini, N.T., Cantor, M., Afan, A.I., Attwood, M.C., Amphaeris, J., Balasani, F., Blair, C.J., Bronstein, J.L., Buanachique, I.O., Cuthill, R.R.T., Das, J., Daura-Jorge, F.G., Deb, A., Dixit, T., Dlamini, G.S., Dounias, E., Gedi, I.I., Gruber, M., Hoffman, L.S., Holzlehner, T., Isack, H.A., Laltaika, A.E., Lloyd-Jones, D.J., Lund, J., Machado, A.M.S., Mahadevan, L., Moreno, I.B., Nwaogu, C.J., Pereira, V.L., Pierotti, R., Rucunua, S.A., dos Santos, W.F., Serpa, N., Smith, B.D., Sridhar, H., Tolkova, I., Tun, T., Valle-Pereira, J.V.S., Wood, B.M., Wrangham, R.W. & Spottiswoode, C.N. 2022 The ecology and evolution of human-wildlife cooperationPeople and Nature 4: 841-855. Read abstract in English, Portuguese and Kiswahili here
  • van der Wal, J.E.M., Spottiswoode, C.N., Uomini, N.T., Cantor, M., Daura-Jorge, F.G., Afan, A.I., Attwood, M.C., Amphaeris, J., Balasani, F., Begg, C.M., Blair, C.J., Bronstein, J.L., Buanachique, I.O., Cuthill, R.R.T., Das, J., Deb, A., Dixit, T., Dlamini, G.S., Dounias, E., Gedi, I.I., Gruber, M., Hoffman, L.S., Holzlehner, T., Isack, H.A., Laltaika, A.E., Lloyd-Jones, D.J., Lund, J., Machado, A.M.S., Mahadevan, L., Moreno, I.B., Nwaogu, C.J., Pereira, V.L., Pierotti, R., Rucunua, S.A., dos Santos, W.F., Serpa, N., Smith, B.D., Tolkova, I., Tun, T., Valle-Pereira, J.V.S., Wood, B.M., Wrangham, R.W. & Cram, D.L. 2022 Safeguarding human-wildlife cooperation. Conservation Letters e12886 Read abstract in English,  Portuguese and Kiswahili here

 

News

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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