An Afrikaans expression used to describe something which is “as tough as nails… or a badger”. An expression which I thought wasn’t true until a huge thump on the side of my Land Cruiser one early morning game drive had the guests and myself off our seats in search of the cause. I hit the brakes as hard as I could and by the sound I had just heard I was sure I had a flat tyre or had even lost a wheel! On further inspection of my vehicle I realized that everything seemed to be OK. I scanned my surroundings amidst all the chaos and out of the corner of my eye I noticed a small black and white figure motionless in some bushes on the side of the road. It lay as still as possible until I approached and then kicked up a storm of dust and disappeared. It was indeed a Honey Badger.
Weighing only around 12kg these little guys pack quite a bit of strength. Well known for their ferocity when disturbed, they have been observed driving lions off their kills and yes, even attacking large vehicles that may be in their way. With their contrasting black and white pattern, other animals have clear warning of their approach and know all too well to steer clear of these feisty animals. Having a very thick and loosly fitted skin, the Honey Badger has few enemies because of its ability to twist full circle within its skin and turn on potential threats.
Do not be deceived by the cute face and name given to the Honey Badger as a sweet and cuddly Pooh like creature with only the goal of gobbling down fragrant honey. The Honey Badger gets its name from its ability to enter bee infested hives; usually with the help of a well-known friend, the Honey Guide bird, and calm the bees with a suffocating smell released from an anal pouch during a raid.
Little is known about this solitary creature which is only sometimes seen in pairs during the breeding season. They are extremely intelligent animals and only one of few species with the ability to utilize tools ; as can be seen in the footage filmed at Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre where a pair use a rake, sticks, stones and pile up some mud to escape their pit. At Amakhosi we have survey cameras in place, to monitor the game on the reserve and document their behaviour. We were recently fortunate enough to have captured this honey badger on our night camera.
This tough and relentless creature is very difficult to spot in the wild but if you are lucky enough to have one ram the side of your tyre, be sure to stay in your car.
Blog by Ranger Simone