African Honeyguides

Research on a remarkable
human-animal relationship

Lailat Guta

Rion Cuthill


Lailat is an agronomist with over half a decade’s worth of experience working with small, medium and large-scale farmers in Mozambique. As a technical assistant in an agricultural inputs distributor, she is enabling farmers to enhance their productivity while promoting the correct use and management of pesticides, for the safety of the environment and people. To her, getting to assist and influence farmers on their decisions regarding what solutions to apply, how frequently and how much is a privilege. Her efforts have led to several hundreds of farmers creating more employment opportunities for youth, thereby contributing to the social strength and economic capacity of Mozambique.


Research focus

As a researcher on the Honeyguide Research Project, Lailat is testing whether bee pollination services to small-scale crops are resilient to the harvesting of wild bees’ nests in cooperation with honeyguides. She is doing so using field experiments in the Niassa Special Reserve in Mozambique, in collaboration with the Mbamba village community.

In the longer term, Lailat aspires to study towards a Masters in Environment and Development, to expand her environmental knowledge and to integrate her skills and experience, while interacting with farmers and their community. She believes that this will enable her to contribute to more widespread sustainable agricultural practices, that are more considerate of the environment. 


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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