Hunting Honey Badger in Africa

Hunting Honey Badger in Africa

The honey badger (Mellivora capensis) is also known as the ratel.  It’s not a true badger, and does not resemble other badgers.  It has more characteristics common to weasels.  It’s called “honey” for its taste for bee larva found in honeycombs.  “Badger” is from the French word for “dig”.  Adult honey badgers stand between 9 to 10 inches tall at the shoulder, and weigh 20-to 35 pounds.  Females are slightly smaller, and weigh 10 to 20 pounds on the average. 

Honey badger skin is thick around the neck and loose on the body, which allows the badger to twist and turn within it.  Eyes are small, the ears barely protrude, and the head is flat with a short muzzle.  All these traits allow the animal to avoid damage when fighting.  Snakes, like cobras sometimes are seen hunting honey badger in Africa.  The snake can bite the badger, and inject a healthy load of venom, but the badger will rapidly shake off the effects of the bite. 

The honey badger lives by itself in burrows.  It is a skilled and rapid digger, able to dig a two yard deep hole in ten minutes.  it will use burrows abandoned by aardvarks, or warthogs.  Its life span is thought to be 10-12 years in the wild.  It is known for its ferocity and strength.  If cornered, the honey badger will turn and fight any type of animal, including the biggest carnivores.  It has been known to take on lions, using its speed and fearless nature, coupled with incredible stamina to wear out the much larger predator.  In general, large predators have an aversion to hunting honey badgers in Africa.

Honey badgers will hunt at any time of the day.  They will turn nocturnal if human population encroaches on their range.  Their diet is omnivorous, from snakes to lion kills.  They hunt frogs, gerbils and other rodents by digging them out of their burrows. 

Honey badgers often raid poultry farms.  They will rip off boards, rip open fences, and burrow under foundations to get at ducks or chicken.  Using dogs to kill the badger usually doesn’t work because of the toughness of its loose skin, and its ferocious nature.  Spears and arrows have a difficult time penetrating its skin.  About the only way to kill a honey badger quickly is by crushing its skull, or shooting it in the head. 

Honey badgers range through much of sub-Saharan Africa.  It is found from sea level to 8,000 feet altitude.  The honey badger’s range covers South and southwestern Africa; Zimbabwe, Sudan and the Sahel region, Ghana, Western Africa, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Ethiopia. 

Hunting Honey badger in Africa is mainly done in Zimbabwe and South Africa.  Zimbabwe allows hunting honey badger in Africa at night with spotlights. In both South Africa and Zimbabwe, night hunting over bait is also popular.  The usual method is to hang bait or to place a bait pile on the ground and build a blind.  Trail cameras come in handy for hunting honey badger in Africa, because other animals can be attracted to the bait, and the camera will help in identifying which animal is on the bait.   Honey badgers are frequently caught on trail cameras attempting to get to leopard baits that have been hung from a tree.

Hunting honey badger in Africa can be done with a relatively small caliber rifle, so it would be a good hunt for a son or daughter as the recoil would be light.  A .243 caliber rifle is more than sufficient.  Shot placement is important, as anything other than a heart/lung shot, or head shot will only wound the honey badger, and it could disappear into the bush.  Be sure the animal is down for good, as walking up to a wounded honey badger might not be a good idea.