The honey badger (Mellivora capensis), also known as the ratel, is a species of mustelid native to Africa, Southwest Asia, and the Indian Subcontinent. They are basically nocturnal and very secretive, making it one of the most difficult animals to spot.
It was the morning of 28th of February, I was on a usual game drive with my guests heading back towards the lodge without a tiger in the bag! Understandably the mood in the car is a little low, though I kept the guests engaged by spotting birds on the way.
Out of the blue, comes a honey badger out of its hole and straight on the side of the road. Now at this point, I must mention that I am working in Tadoba National Park for last 4 years, spending almost 9 hrs in the forest every day, and never had a sighting of a Ratel before. Shocked and out of words I grabbed the driver by his collar, which instinctively made him push the brakes hard. The car did stop, but with a lot of noise, and I thought the golden opportunity of seeing the animal up close is gone forever…. but what happened next shocked us all… the badger instead of running away from the vehicle, walked towards it in a very calm manner. My guide Sanjay, sitting in the front seat, confused about the identity of this queer animal kept turning the pages of his field guide. My guest who had already encountered a honey badger once before in Africa, was also amazed by seeing the confidence of this creature in close proximity to humans.
We waited there for the next ten minutes, seeing the animal as it foraged for food in the termite mounds. Three more safari cars which were waiting at a distance, unaware of the sighting, got suspicious seeing the activity in our car, started coming towards us, the badger looked around, sniffed the air and gracefully walked away from our sight… by the time the other jeeps reached, it was all over …
Photo Credit (Honey Badger): Svasara Guest, Ms. Anne Woodhouse, UK
Original Blog by Chirag J. Roy, re-posted in his fond memory on his 34th Birthday on 29th January, 2022.