An African Tale of Two Species
Mutualism is a very special and rare kind of natural cooperativebehavior. A tradition practiced in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa is an interesting case of mutualism betweentwo very unlikely partners – birds and humans. Some speciesof honeyguides have developed a mutualistic relationshipwiththe African honey-hunters. Both species use a set of ritualisticcalls to communicate with each other. The birds guidethe men to honeybee nests and get rewarded in return as thehoney-hunters leave behind parts of the honeycombs for theirfriends. This mutualismhas been reported by several authorsand has recently been tested rigorously using robust scientificmethods. This article provides an overview of this interestingbehavior that has evolved and continues to be practicedin the forests of sub-Saharan Africa by tribes like the Hadza,Boran, and Yao.