Much has been written about the Honey Badger over the years, and most of us are familiar with the name, but how many of us have been fortunate enough to view this incredible species in its natural environment? Honey Badgers are famous for being completely unafraid, for taking on battles they probably shouldn’t and just generally for ruling the scene when it comes to confrontation. They have been known to take on Lions (more than one at a time), will eat just about anything under the sun, from snakes, birds, mice and scorpions to fruit, bee larvae, flowers and honey (often busting open beehives, not particularly bothered about how many times they are stung), and rather gruesomely, have also been known to chew off their own limbs to escape the terrible gin traps that some farmers set on their land. After all, the Guinness Book of World Records lists the Honey Badger as the most fearless animal on earth! And while this does hold true at times, the reality is that they often cruise about well under the radar, are excellent at not drawing attention to themselves, and largely dodge the limelight (and often our spotlight!).
The Honey Badger is confined to its own genus – Mellivora. At one point it was assigned to the badger family – Melinae, but it bears few similarities to badgers and is far more closely related to martens. There is also some similarity to Wolverines – which are also in their own genus; and, like this species, Honey Badgers can essentially be regarded as a form of outsized weasel or polecat.
Talk to anyone and most people want to see a Honey Badger someday. They occur widely throughout Africa, SW Asia and the Indian Subcontinent, and are tolerant of many habitat types. They are also extremely adaptable and are fortunately still listed as a least concern species according to the IUCN.
While they are widespread, they can be extremely difficult to see and many visitors to Africa and Asia often return home without having added the Honey Badger to their list of sightings. They have a certain lure about them, but seeing one requires a healthy dose of luck, or an agenda specifically focussed on targeting the species. If this is a species that you are really interested in seeing and seeing well, then consider a few locations where they appear to occur at a higher density than anywhere else. The Kalahari Desert in northern South Africa, south and central Botswana, and eastern Namibia seem to be ‘hot zones’ where Honey Badgers are found with reliance and certainly far more frequently than many other locations throughout their range.
Recent Rockjumper tours to these areas have produced an incredible volume of sightings. 13 individuals were seen in just a few days in Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve in September of last year. And a trip finishing just 2 weeks ago had an incredible 12 Honey Badgers in a week-long visit to South Africa’s Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park! Both locations are not areas that we regularly feature on our scheduled itineraries; however, most Rockjumper Wildlife tours are customized in nature, and we would be very happy to tailor-make your perfect African safari for you, your friends and family, and can easily include the locations mentioned above.
The Kalahari zone is also an excellent area for other fabulous species, including famous black-maned Lion, Cheetah, Leopard, Spotted and Brown Hyenas, everyone’s favorite – the Meerkat, Springhare, Bat-eared and Cape Foxes, Cape Porcupine, Small-spotted Genet, African Wild Cat and even realistic chances for seeing one of the more elusive cats – Caracal.