Paula Gilhooley….Honey Badgers of Kruger National Park

Another of Kruger’s elusive creatures if the Honey Badger.  In four, two month stays in South Africa visiting Kruger National Park I have only seen a Honey Badger twice, both times off of H-10 almost to Tshokwane Picnic spot.

IMG_6075Honey Badgers are small carnivores that can weigh up to about 40 pounds and are known to be very pugnacious and fierce for its size. They are one of the toughest mammals in the world.  It has a reputation for having a vile temper.  It is mostly nocturnal (explaining why they are seldom seen), it is omnivorous feeding on small animals, carrion, berries, roots, eggs, honey and social insects.  Though it has been known to attach water buffalo by “going for the groin” and ripping off the testicles leaving the buffalo to bleed to death.  The Honey Badgers thick loose skin protects it from predators and is a good defense against bee stings and snake bites.  They often can be seen at night in the park camps scavenging from garbage bins and unlocked refrigerators.

In a book I read recently it described a Honey Badger’s encounter with one of South Africa’s deadliest snakes a Puff Adder.  The Honey Badger encountered a Puff Adder  and proceeded to attack the snake biting off its head and killing it.  WithinIMG_6076 a few minutes the toxins in IMG_0297the snakes venom took affect and the Honey Badger collapsed.     But about four hours later the Honey Badger awakened, a bit groggy and went on its way.  This story attests to the tenacity of theHoney Badger as well as its reaction to harmful venoms.

Of course one of the Honey Badgers favorite foods is honey for which it has a voracious appetite.  It is helped in its search for honey by a small bird called a “honey guide”  who locate bee hives then guide the honey badger to the hive.  To thank the bird the hone badger leaves the pupae and wax from the hive which are favorites of the “honey guide”.

The first Honey BadgerI saw was hunting scorpion and would dig them up out of the soil and devour them without any affect from the venomous stinger on the scorpions tail.

IMG_6092  We were able to watch him for quite a while as he was near the edge of the road and very intent on his hunting.  The second one I saw was further off and was more or less just traveling through the territory.(the photo of the Honey Badger with the garbage bin is not mine but from another lover of KNP)

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