………like tidying up a messy room and finding a long-lost treasure.
Last night I had turned off everything there was to turn off (which was not much due to the power issues we are having) and locked up everything that needed locking. I was looking forward to my bed and a lovely sleep because I had had a really busy day. My feet ached from running around all day. I walked slowly to my cottage chatting to Fred who I had in my arms. Then I remembered that I still had to turn the water off. Argh! This is no easy matter which you will know about if you have read about our water supply on our property. So I had to put Fred to bed, get into the car and drive to the pump station – turn the water off and head back. It wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t have to get out of the car, unlock and open the reserve gate twice on the trip. (Maybe I am just lazy). I was grumbling to myself to keep awake while slowly driving over the bumpy sand road when suddenly my headlights caught movement in the road ahead. Right in front of me was a gorgeous honey badger.
He stood and looked at me for a bit then turned off the road and waddled away. This is the first honey badger that we have spotted on the property – we have not even seen any of their spoor so it was an awesome surprise. It’s great to know we have them on the property. Now I need to get him to come and live on my veranda – because they just love catching snakes.
The honey badger (Mellivora capensis, or Ratel in Afrikaans) is a member of the Mustelidae family. They are distributed throughout most of Africa and western and south Asian areas of eastern Iran, southern Iraq, Pakistan and western India. These badgers have been named the most fearless animal in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The honey badger is found in arid grasslands and savannahs. They are fierce carnivores with a keen sense of smell. They are known for their snake-killing abilities; they use their jaws to grab a snake behind its head and kill it. Honey badgers can devour a snake in 15 minutes.
Badgers have a large appetite for beehives. Commercial honey producers do not take kindly to this destruction and sometimes shoot, trap or poison badgers they suspect of damaging their hives, although badger-proof commercial bee hives have been developed.
A bird, the honeyguide, has a habit of leading badgers and other large mammals to bees’ nests. When a badger breaks into the nest, the birds take their share.
The badger is among the fiercest hunters in its range, with prey including earthworms, insects, scorpions, porcupines, hares, ground squirrels, meerkats, mongooses and larger prey such as tortoises, crocodiles up to one metre in size, young gazelle and snakes (including pythons and venomous species). They also take lizards, frogs small rodents, birds and fruit. The badger’s ferocious reputation reflects its tendency to attack animals larger than itself; it is seldom preyed upon.
In a 2002 National Geographic documentary titled “Snake killers: Honey badgers of the Kalahari”, a badger was documented stealing a meal out of a puff adder’s mouth and casually eating the meal in front of the hissing snake. After the meal, he began to hunt the puff adder, the species being one of the badger’s preferred venomous snakes. He managed to kill the snake and began eating it, but then collapsed on the dead snake as he had been bitten during the struggle. After about two hours he surprisingly awoke. Once his paralysis had subsided, the badger continued with his meal and then resumed his journey. Ah – I think you have to see this for yourselves – it’s amazing.
This marvelous sighting made the whole trip worthwhile and when I hopped into bed I realised how happy I am living here. I am blessed.