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Monday, 27 August 2012

H is for Honey Badger

CCF has carried out a number of camera trapping surveys, and also maintains a network of cameras positioned for ongoing monitoring of the wildlife on our land.  While we are mainly focussed on cheetahs, there are many other species out there, and the cameras will trigger no matter what passes them by.  In this series of weekly blog entries,we use these pictures to illustrate some of the wealth of animal life in Namibia - one species per week.  We hope you will enjoy seeing a little more of our world here in the bush.

This week we're introducing one of our favourite carnivores, the Honey Badger.

Found throughout sub-Saharan and north-western Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian sub-continent, and even up in Turkmenistan, the Honey Badger has a huge range and possibly a multitude of sub-species, although there has been insufficient research done for anyone to be sure.  They can live almost anywhere from arid deserts, to dense rain-forests, and from sea-level to the dizzy 4000m heights of the Bale National Park in Ethiopia.  Despite this vast range, they nonetheless appear to exist in a very low population density throughout.  Unfortunately, there are no reliable estimates for their population size either now, or in the past, but it appears that this is likely always to have been the case. 

The Honey Badger is a small and cute looking carnivore, but that soft exterior masks a ferocious temperament that is backed up by a powerful body and sharp claws.  Males measure up to 75cm (30") with a 30cm (12") tail and weigh around 16kg (35 lbs), with the females up to 20% smaller.  They feed on a wide variety of prey, from insects, through snakes (many of them extremely venomous)  all the way up to sub-adult antelope, but are also known to have a sweet tooth, and can often be found stealing honey straight out of bee hives… and eating the bees too.  They will aggressively defend their territory against all comers, including much larger animals such as lions or cape buffalo, and small groups have been known to chase equal numbers of sub-adult lions off of a kill before stealing the meat.

Little is known about Honey Badger reproduction, but they appear to have between 1-4 young after a six month gestation period.  In captivity they have been known to live up to twenty-six years.  At CCF Honey Badgers are only rarely seen in person, although a number of staff have been lucky enough to see them seemingly unconcernedly strolling along the middle of roads pointedly ignoring the large vehicle following them.  On camera traps they are usually seen in pairs, but even here, the sightings are infrequent. 

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