|Hunters and Guides: Multispecies Encounters between Humans, Honeyguide Birds and Honeybees
Human animal studies
|The Center for African Area Studies, Kyoto University
|African Study Monographs
|This paper discusses the relationship between humans and honeyguide birds (Indicator indicator) in the Adamaoua Region of Cameroon. Throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, the honeyguide is known to guide humans to nests of wild living honeybees that it cannot access independently. After the humans harvest the honey, the bird eats leftover larvae and comb. While the human honey hunters increase their yield of honey by collaborating with the honeyguide, the bird is able to expand on its usual diet of insects. This unique mutualistic relationship and the changes it is currently undergoing are discussed here. While honey hunting is still common in the Adamaoua, its importance has decreased in recent years as most honey is produced from bees kept in different types of beehives, mostly conical grass hives. A relatively recent phenomenon is the increasing diversification and professionalisation of the honey trade with high demand for high quality honey. As honey from wild living bee colonies is usually of a lower quality, salvaging honey from wild bee colonies is becoming less important and the interactions between humans and honeyguides less frequent. As the birds stop guiding humans if the latter do not collaborate, we must assume that the close interspecies collaboration might end in this area.
|Copyright by The Center for African Area Studies, Kyoto University, December 1, 2018.
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