African Honeyguides

Research on a remarkable
human-animal relationship

Ricardo Guta

Ricardo Guta


I have always had very diverse interests in nature which trace back to my childhood. These interests later landed me in Gorongosa National Park, where I participated in the very first Biodiversity Survey conducted by a team of national and international scientists. Later I became a member of the scientific team, working in the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory (EOWL) in Gorongosa as a research technician focussing on the documentation of insect biodiversity. That experience aroused my interest in understanding insect biology, evolution, and interactions with other organisms. 

My educational background is in agriculture and livestock from the Instituto Agrário de Chimoio in Mozambique, where I gained experience in crop and animal production, which enabled me to launch a project entitled Animal Protection and Health (PROTECSA) in 2012, whose main goal is to provide technical support to local communities to improve health, food and reproductive management of their livestock. I have also worked as a teacher in one of the community Institutes, and as a technician with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This in turn led me to enrol for a Biological Science Course degree at the Universidade Lúrio in Mozambique. For my research project, I studied the diversity and ectoparasitic load of grasshoppers in Quirimbas National Park. I am currently studying towards a MSc in Conservation Biology at the University of Cape Town and for my thesis, I am studying the phylogeography of flightless spring katydids in the Greater Cape Floristic Region. In 2022 I joined the African Honeyguides as an expert entomologist. My overriding experience in ecology, biogeography, systematics, macrophotography, and conservation of insects, as well as my entomology background, will come in handy in this project.


Research focus

My role within the African Honeyguides Project is to better understand the effect of human-honeyguide mutualism on honeybee behaviour and ecology, and pollination. Honey-hunting is considered a major threat to wild bee populations in Asia and has never been evaluated in Africa. This study is extremely relevant, especially in Niassa Special Reserve, where this rare remarkable cooperative relationship still thrives. To harvest the bees’ nest, smoke is often used to subdue the bees. However, not much is known about the effects of honey-hunting on honeybees and pollination.


Peer-reviewed publications



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...

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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.

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