The afternoon drive had been relatively quiet for ranger Pete Thorpe and I, when I noticed something poke its head around from behind a large dead Marula tree right on the edge of the road. It was a honey badger. We don’t often see them so when I shouted “Honey badger!”, Pete – who was on the tracker seat – was looking off in the distance for one disappearing into the grass. Usually it is only a fleeting glimpse of one that we have as they scurry away from the vehicle. However this badger, no further than 5 meters from the vehicle didn’t run off. But rather began scratching away at the bark of the tree.
My initial thoughts were that it was going after some form of prey encased in the tree. Shortly after we saw it it fell back and appeared to be sleeping. Being such resilient creatures they make short work of incredibly venomous snakes such as cobras. They are able to build up a resistance or immunity to the venom, where if bitten they are rather knocked unconscious for a while and then promptly resume their meal as soon as they come to. Instead of the bite being fatal as it is for most other animals.
I thought this might have been what we were witnessing. Pete with a better view realised that it was in fact stuck and rather feigning death, in the hopes that the supposed danger leaves it alone. Faced with this dilemma, and seeing how distressed the Honey badger was, I would never be able to forgive myself if I drove away knowing that it would be stuck there and most likely die that evening.
Digging it out wasn’t going to be simple. Honey badgers are probably the most aggressive animal here and don’t back down even against the largest, most fierce sets of teeth and claws. Getting close enough to be able to dig underneath it was not going to be easy. Even worse, what do we do when it gets free?
Pete had the brilliant idea of placing a blanket over the honey badger to try calm it down. It worked and allowed us to get a little closer, realising it was stuck in a hole between the roots and the ground. Using a stick, we would hold the honey badger out of the way so we could dig. Doing this for quite some time we then removed the blanket hoping it would be able to free itself. Utterly exhausted and in a lot of pain the honey badger was unable to. We were not going to give up on it until it was free.
From how much of the bark it had scratched off, we presumed it had been trapped for at least a day but possibly even longer. And would have been incredibly dehydrated; if we set it free the chances of it finding water soon were probably slim and it may not have survived. So we poured some into the shovel and from being such an aggressive little animal, it was no longer focused on us. It began lapping the water up as though we were not even there.
I couldn’t believe how much water it drank; probably close to a litre. For an animal that only weighs around 10kg or so, that is such a large volume to drink in one go, highlighting just how long it must have been trapped for. Once hydrated the honey badger had a new lease on life and gave us the motivation to keep on digging.
We got to a point where we had completely freed the back and rump of the honey badger. Digging any further would not help in any way. I was tempted to grab the honey badger by the nape of the neck and pull it free. However that is not a wise thing to do. Honey badgers bodies are very loose within their skin, allowing them to rotate around and lash out at any would-be danger grabbing them from behind. So instead we used the blanket as a ‘tug-rope’. Enticing the honey badger to grab hold of it with its claws and biting onto it, we could try pull it free. Eventually on our third attempt the honey badger came free and sent me and Pete diving for the vehicle. Honey badgers’ reputations led us to believe that it would go after us as soon as it was free.
This was not the case at all. As we fled, the blanket fell over the badger slowing its escape. It slowly crawled out and as it found its feet it stumbled down the road. Initially its legs were a little wobbly, which is understandable given it had been trapped in a small hole for so long. Stiff and having been deprived of a fresh supply of blood, they seemed to recover once it was able to move them. Hydrated and free it trotted away until we could no longer see it.
I am incredibly grateful that I played a part in helping this honey badger. It seems fortuitous that we chose to drive that road and had everything we needed to get the job done. But something else meant a lot more to me. The honey badger started off completely belligerent towards us. But over the course of the rescue its temperament changed drastically. Whether it was so physically exhausted that it simply couldn’t keep up the aggressive facade, or, it had figured we were not there to harm it and had built a bit of trust. Either way we will never know but I like to believe the latter.
Filed under General Nature Wildlife
Love is power of life
It was an incredible rescue Sean.
I saw it on video and it was fantastically brave and kind.
I used to know someone who ran an open campsite in Tanzania and he said packs of wild dogs , leopards, elephants his staff wouldn’t turn a hair, a honey badger would clear the camp at a rate of knots
Sean, loved the video🤗, rescuing honey badger!
Lovely this…………. well done guys!!
well done guys thats a great story, lovely to see it all ended well
I once had a lucky shot of a badger carrying her baby , it is on instagram
Such a wonderful story. I’m so glad you were able to help it free.
As I said before you two are the man…errr…the men! This made me tear up and is such a beautiful and touching story. It well highlights your hearts as well as the credo for Londolozi. Great job!!!
It’s a fantastic story!
Well done, guys!
Thank you for sharing!
What an amazing event. I wonder if the honey badger will retain any memory of being rescued by humans.
Thank you so much for helping this creature, it is so unusual to see and wow such a temper honey badger have… Londolozi definitely is the place of human compassion too
Just brilliant. Well done and thank you.
You guys are awesome! Thank you. I’m sure the little guy was grateful!!
Fantastic story & video!
Sean with the clean-shaven look for the narrative!
What a creative solution to this badger’s dilemma and the compassion you two exhibited was inspiring! Thank you for your kindness.
Gold star for the two of you and happy that ut decided not to chase you!
Amazing Rescue, Proud of the work you guys did.
What a brilliant rescue Pete and Sean! You deserve the “Legion d’Honneur”, one of the highest french recognition medal. Or at least a beer from your colleagues rangers… Let’s hope that this honey badger will spread the word among his friends about humans being nice guys (no need to run away from them). And soon we will see honey badgers every night…
A great story and very well told. Having been on hundreds of game drives, I am always curious where Rangers draw the line at helping animals vs. it’s the bush, things happen and Mother Nature is in charge.
Started following your posts a few weeks ago and you are the highlight of my day! Loved that the Honey Badger is free! I have your book “The Leopards of Londolozi by Lex Hes” published in 1991!
Hopefulful perseverance and joy speak best for this task and outcome. You definitely feel “Light” after all is said ad done, while seeing the badger be able to run free.
I firmly believe that this honey badger realized after his first fright that you wanted to help, especially when you started to give him water. Animals, in my opinion, can feel whether a person wants to harm them or not. It was really great that you rescued the poor badger! Of course, nature can be very cruel and if you had not accidentally come across this little guy, he would certainly have perished in a horrible way. So it was wonderful that the two of you saved its life. And it is so rare that one gets such great photos of a honey badger. I have only seen maybe two during a safari so far.
I’m sure it will be a story we all remember and share for quite sometime …so I can well imagine how you guys must feel. Such a brave, super kind deed ..one very lucky Badger !!! Well done Sean and Pete 👌🏻🙏🏻💕
Sean, I love this, one of my favorite stories/sightings! So awesome you guys were able to save it. After the Honey Badger was freed, did you guys go back to the spot it was stuck to try to figure out further how it got in there in the first place and what it was stuck on?
Saw this on the video blog yesterday….that is one very lucky honey badger that you were around to save it. Well done to both of you, an experience I’m sure you’ll never forget!
Loved seeing this yesterday! Absolutely fantastic! It really got me thinking how did the Honey Badger get in there in the first place?
Sean & Pete, What an incredible and compassiopnate feat! How the heck did it get stuck in the first place! It was so fortuitous that you found it and how special that you saved the poor guy (or girl!). Thanks for sharing!
Big hearts, clever rescue and a wonderful video to capture it all. You two may not have made a new friend, but I’m sure it was relieved to finally escape.
Such an amazing story.
Bless you, guys.
What a lucky honey badger! You were his guardian angels and helped him out of this situation – you are true heroes! Thank you!
You guys are awesome, well done!
Wow thank you Sean Zeederberg
Well done to you and Pete Thorpe for saving this honey badger (Especially since I heard that there is only something like 1,000 honey badgers left in the wild)
Protector of all living things 💕💕💕
Well done on that rescue! Never give up! Never give in!
All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you!
Beautiful love story with nature exhibiting its powers .Love costs £0.00…..salut pete & sean