Honey badger kills porcupine - the spoils of victory
Wildlife photographers Caroline Schiess and Anna Nagel, from Wild PhotographiX, were lucky enough to come across a most unusual sighting whilst out on a cold winter’s morning drive in Balule Nature Reserve. Two large shadows on the dusty track turned out to be a honey badger breakfasting on a porcupine! These are two of the bushveld’s most secretive creatures, rare to see them at all let alone out in the morning light…together!
The car crept closer trying to get a better look at the situation but the human activity unfortunately disturbed the honey badger and it disappeared into the cover of the bushes. Assessing the scene they could see drag marks, tracks from both the honey badger and the porcupine, quills and a blood trail. There was no evidence to suggest that a leopard, lion or hyena had killed the porcupine, but could the honey badger really have killed it?
Persistence and patience are two qualities you need to have in the African bush and so they waited a while to see if the honey badger would return to claim its breakfast. Much to their disappointment he kept his distance and so they decided to come back later that day.
When they returned the porcupine still lay in the road and the honey badger was trying to drag it off into the bushes, obviously not keen on having to fight anyone else for his meal!
Wild PhotographiX photographer Caroline writes:
As soon as he realised we were there, he turned and trotted off, disappearing into the thicket once more, grumbling like hell as he went. We backed our vehicle up and sat dead still, mentally willing the badger to return and claim his prize. We sat frozen for more than an hour but eventually it was time to head back to camp, believing that this was definitely as good as it was ever going to get, yet disappointed that we could not assess the honey badger and have come to a better conclusion. Had the honey badger in fact killed the porcupine? The burning question, back at camp nagged for one last follow up.
Back at the scene, the porcupine still had not been moved. Filled with anticipation and the hope of third time lucky, we positioned ourselves and began the wait. We sat breathless straining our ears for any sound of movement in the long grass, our eyes scouring every inch of bush around for vegetation movement and poised with cameras ready for that fleeting moment.
Rustling grass nearby alerted us that the honey badger may in fact be heading back one more time… we held our breath. The grass moved in the direction where the porcupine lay… then the movement stopped… then started moving again but in the opposite direction. To our dismay it went quiet again, leaving us hanging with anticipation.
Then further up the road there was more rustling and suddenly the honey badger appeared in the road. Adamant on taking his prize, he cautiously made his way towards the porcupine and us.
He braved our presence, giving us the opportunity to see a quill buried deep in his right shoulder as well as two serious wounds on his back. Leaving no more doubt that he had in fact taken on a porcupine equal to his size!
On reaching the porcupine the honey badger gave a few hard tugs at it and then looked up one last time. He snatched his quarry up and hurriedly dragged it off, disappearing for good… carrying the wounds of what must have been an epic battle.
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