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Birds of Casamance Ecoparc

Posted 15.03.2012 by Paul & Celine, Senegalwildlife - View comments

Our first notable bird species in the Ecoparc is the Greater honeyguide, a widespread species in sub-Saharan African forest and savanna, whose dull colour belies an extraordinary symbiosis with man, long known from anecdote and first scientifically tested and proven only in the late 1980s. It guides hunters to bees nests, considerably reducing their search time for honey and benefiting from being able to access nests once they are broken open.

In Kenya, where the behaviour was first studied, birds regularly check bee nests early in the morning. They then respond to hunters' whistles by approaching the hunters and leading them to nests with a characteristic call. This is a culturally evolved behaviour that the birds abandon in areas where people no longer gather wild honey.

The species was quickly identified in our book by two passing local women. This is a nice example of a species whose conservation, or at least that of a part of its behaviour, requires the continuation of traditional forest activities, such as are found in the Ecoparc.