Honey badgers in Botswana

Rather good video from National Geographic of the exploits of several honey badgers  in the Kalahari including a mother and her cub.

Honey Badgers @ National Geographic Magazine

As the Kalahari Desert cools at twilight, a honey badger and her cub begin foraging for food—two of dozens of badgers whose habits we documented over nearly four years. Supported by the University of Pretoria’s Mammal Research Institute and the Endangered Wildlife Trust, we established a 600-square-mile (1,600-square-kilometer) study area in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (jointly managed by South Africa and Botswana) and spent nearly 6,000 hours there observing wild badger behavior. We saw them confront enemies, mate, rear young, and hunt prey from insects to reptiles and rodents.

Honey badgers are famously tough. (South Africa’s National Defense Force calls its armored personnel carriers ratels, the Afrikaans word for these beasts.) But we discovered that they’re far from indestructible. Lions and leopards routinely kill them. The badgers’ appetite for ravaging beehives (thus their common name) causes conflicts with commercial honey producers, some of whom shoot, trap, or poison animals they suspect of damaging their hives. Females have just one offspring at a time—not the multicub litters previously assumed—and though they care for their young for more than a year after birth, half of all cubs succumb to predators or starvation and die before achieving independence.

More small carnivores of Botswana

In the Okavango Delta, the honey badger has an interesting symbiotic relationship with a bird called the greater honeyguide (Indicator indicator).  The honeyguide is well known by locals to lead you to a beehive, calling, fluttering and spreading its white tail feathers conspicuously as you follow it.  In this same way, the honey badger has learned to follow the bird to its favorite food.  Once at the hive, the badger’s impenetrable skin is impervious to the bees’ stings and it eats what it wants.  The honeyguide benefits by eating the leftover larvae and beeswax.  Unfortunately, a honeyguide is also known to lead you to lions using this same technique.

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