Every game drive presents the possibility of a sighting you have never seen before, and may never see again.
This was true for the night portion of a recent game drive. During this part of our afternoon game drives, we use spotlights to view any nocturnal creatures we come across.
This allows us to view species we are unlikely to see during the day like like bush babies, civets, porcupines, genets, and others.
One such occasion was a sighting I won’t forget. Using the spotlight, I saw two black and white figures running around in front of us – honey badgers! Due to the size difference between the pair, this was most likely a mother and cub. They were foraging.
True to their name, honey badgers do eat honey, but they are also carnivorous and will feed on reptiles, amphibians and other meat.
We watched the two honey badgers saunter around, and then the mother disappeared head-first down a termite mound.
The youngster remained around the perimeter of the burrow. We watched and waited for about ten minutes.
The mother’s feet were the first to emerge. Once she was out, she revealed the prize she was after – a monitor lizard! And a large one at that.
Once she got the lizard out, she ran a short distance off, carrying it by its neck. Its tail movement revealed that it was still alive.
Within a few minutes she had killed it and started feeding. Once it was dead, the youngster also made its way to the feast.
We watched for about 25 minutes as the two devoured the lizard. They fed exactly as one might expect of this ferocious small carnivore – by ripping it apart.
Because of their secretive and nocturnal nature, honey badgers are uncommon to view on safari. So to see not only one, but two, together, was incredible.
Words by: Field Guide Mark Hull
Photo by: Anthony Hattingh (for illustrative purposes only and not from the actual sighting)