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Orlando Yassene, a Yao honey-hunter, holding a male greater honeyguide that was temporarily captured for research in the Niassa National Reserve in Mozambique. Photo Credit: Claire Spottiswoode

Honey Hunters of Mozambique

The New York Times print edition on Sunday, July 26, 2016 features a fascinating advancement in our knowledge of human / non-human species cooperation. Writer Natalie Angier’s article, In Africa, Birds and Humans Form a Unique Honey Hunting Party lets us in on the conversation between members of the Yao people in Mozambique and their honeyguide bird partners. These two form a rare, inter-species communication network based on verbal-audio signals between one another, with a shared reward of food from beehives in the Niassa National Reserve forest. The people gain honey, the birds gain waxy treats, and both gain more together than they could apart – a 37% increase in food, to be precise.

Orlando Yassene harvesting honeycombs from a wild bees’ nest in the Niassa National Reserve in Mozambique. Photo Credit: Claire Spottiswoode

For more reading on the topic of honey hunting, I recommend fellow Princeton University Press author, Tom Seeley’s newest book, Following the Wild Bees.

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