10 October 2010 by Julienne du Toit

Watch Out For The Little Guy

There’s something about tented camps that makes you feel at one with the bush. No matter how luxurious, a simple piece of canvas lies between you and Mother Nature.

One night in such a place, we heard the weirdest night sounds outside.

My husband Chris briefly opened the door and peered into the dark. “It’s an animal, I think, but I can’t see. Sounds like it’s munching something.”

We began speculating. Was it some kind of minor beast kill? Maybe a genet chomping on a rat? Perhaps something a little larger? I ordered Chris back to bed just in case - and he didn’t hesitate for a second.

But the next morning, when we headed out for breakfast, we were greeted by an extraordinary sight. There, at the base of a hollow tree right against our tent were the two scrabbling hind legs of a mystery creature.

My mind flashed through the possibilities. Was it a porcupine? An aardvark? Was it stuck?

Not at all. Within a minute, the creature had emerged and revealed itself as a honey badger - one of the hands-down feistiest creatures of the bush.

This muscle-bound knee-high badger had been feasting on a bee’s nest the entire night. All that remained was a piece of honeycomb and a dozen disconsolate bees.

There it stood, less than a metre away from us, regarding us with a calm gaze. It knew it had the upper hand. Like, OK, you wanna make something of this?

We broke eye contact first. Having made its point, the honey badger turned and trotted down the brick path with the invulnerable strut of a compact little sergeant-major on a parade ground. The park is mine, he seemed to say. And who were we to argue?

Category: Wildlife

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