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.

 

News

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 https://top100youth.africa 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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