African Honeyguides

Research on a remarkable
human-animal relationship

Wiro-Bless Kamboe

Wiro-Bless Kamboe


I was born and bred in Navrongo, in the northern part of Ghana, where our livelihoods depend on nature. This allowed me to develop a strong connection to nature at an early age. As children, we enjoyed going on adventures where we hunted birds and small animals. However, every time I came across an injured animal, I felt an overwhelming sense of sorrow and compassion. It was during these experiences I realized my passion for animal welfare and conservation.

As part of my BSc dissertation at BSc at the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Management of the University for Development Studies in Ghana, I conducted research on bird trade in Navrongo and its surroundings. After graduation, I continued to work with my department at the University, focusing on research and teaching. Through Jessica van der Wal, I conducted pilot studies in Ghana on honey-hunting with honeyguides. I was fascinated by the idea of the mutualistic relationship between humans and honeyguides, which motivated me to gain further knowledge on this topic in Ghana. In 2023, I began my MSc studies in Conservation Biology at the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town.

Research focus

My objective is to investigate and understand the existing honey-hunting societies in Ghana and the impact of beekeeping on them. Specifically, I will examine the prevalence of honey-hunters who utilize honeyguides versus those who do not, and the extent to which honeyguides contribute to their success in identifying beehives in natural habitats.



  • 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., IbrahimJ.I., Jamie, G.A., KamboeW.-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  Read abstract in English and Kiswahili here


Honey-hunting Research Network workshop

The Honey-hunting Research Network (coordinated by Jessica van der Wal) met in Cape Town for a very enjoyable week of analysing and comparing interview data from honey-hunting cultures across Africa, painting a picture of the human cultural variation relevant to honeyguides, and its uncertain future on a rapidly changing continent. Joining in person were Wiro-Bless Kamboe, Rochelle Mphetlhe, George M’manga, Sanele Nhlabatsi, Daniella Mhangwana, Celiwe Ngcamphalala, Claire Spottiswoode and Jessica van der Wal. Thank you to the Cultural Evolution Society Transformation Fund for funding our get-together!

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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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