This ferocious little creature may not be large in stature but it has more heart than most big predators. In fact, honey badgers have been known to chase young lions off kills and have even been recorded killing buffalo, wildebeest and waterbuck. Whether or not their ability to physically kill these large animals is true, is debatable. There are however, definite claims that all three of the abovementioned species have been found dead due to blood-loss as a result of honey badgers attacking their genitals – the badger’s prime attack target.
Honey badgers are primarily carnivorous and will eat anything from birds and lizards to deadly snakes. A honey badger has been documented being bitten by a highly venomous puff adder whilst killing it. It then lay down next to the dead snake, slept for a few hours and woke up to devour its meal with no apparent ill-effect from the venom.
The honey badger gets its name from the honey it so enjoys eating. These little animals have a very unique relationship with a bird called a Greater Honeyguide. This bird makes a call which sounds like “VIC – TOR“, which it repeats over and over to attract the honey badger. The bird then flies ahead a few hundred metres so that the honey badger can follow it – until the animal finds the hive. The honey badger, which seems almost immune to the stings of the aggressive bees, then eats the honey leaving the precious honeycomb for the Greater Honeyguide to eat. What a brilliant relationship.
Honey badgers are fantastic diggers and can excavate tunnels in hard ground in as little as 10 minutes. These tunnels will be used to sleep in during the day. Being primarily nocturnal, honey badgers come out at night, but they may be active during the day depending on weather conditions and predators. At the moment we have been seeing lots of daytime activity from the honey badgers at Sabi Sabi, as, being winter, the nights here have become quite cold.
The other day one of our rangers, Jabu, took this video of a honey badger scrounging through a rhino midden in search of dung beetle grubs. It seemed completely oblivious to the presence of the Land Rover. This is highly unusual in our area as honey badgers are normally very shy and secretive.