Sabi Sands Photographic Safari

‘Honey badger don’t care’

Honey badger charging oryx in Etosha National Park in Namibia

A honey badger charges an oryx in Etosha National Park in Namibia © Dirk Theron

We’re halfway through our Photographer of the Year 2018 and entries are filling up our inbox at an incredible pace. Last week, we featured a photo in our Weekly Selection gallery of a honey badger charging an oryx, taken by Dirk Theron. It caught our attention and we wanted to know what happened next! So here Dirk shares with us this amazing wildlife encounter that he managed to capture on camera. Feedback from experienced bush folk is that this honey badger could have rabies – hence his emaciated state and elevated aggression levels. This little guy reminds us so much of this famous YouTube video: “The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger” (“Honey Badger Don’t Care”).

Honey badger charging oryx in Etosha National Park in Namibia

The honey badger slips past the oryx © Dirk Theron

Written, and photographs, by Dirk Theron

I was sitting at one of my favourite waterholes (because of the perfect afternoon light it receives) in Etosha National Park in Namibia, and there was not much going on, except for an old oryx hanging around. I was starting to get a bit bored and was about to leave and head back to camp when I saw movement in the distance. I was pleasantly surprised when I realised it was a honey badger approaching.

Honey badger flipped by oryx in Etosha National Park in Namibia

The honey badger is launched into the air by the oryx, it’s shadow almost left behind by the force © Dirk Theron

The badger went straight to the water and started drinking, ignoring the small number of animals that were around. The next moment it stopped drinking and without warning started attacking this oryx!

Honey badger flying through the air with oryx in Etosha National Park in Namibia

A flying honey badger © Dirk Theron

The oryx would take a few steps back while the badger charged, then the oryx would slam the badger flat on the ground with its head, hooking the badger with its horns and tossing it easily five or six metres into the air. The first time the badger fell I thought it was dead, but it would just get up (albeit a little unsteady), shake itself and charge again!

Honey badger fighting oryx in Etosha National Park in Namibia

The honey badger preparing to land and continue the fight after being flipped by the oryx © Dirk Theron

This routine repeated itself about four times until the oryx decided it best to get out of there, so it turned around and made a hasty retreat! I was left stunned.

Honey badger drinking water in Etosha National Park in Namibia

The honey badger takes a water break © Dirk Theron

The next day I was sitting at the same waterhole, thinking about what happened the previous day when, (believe it or not) the same badger came trotting up to the water.

Honey badger attacking black-backed jackal in Etosha National Park in Namibia

Next opponent: The honey badger goes after a black-backed jackal © Dirk Theron

I could not believe what I was seeing when, again without warning, the badger started attacking a black-backed jackal!

Honey badger chasing black-backed jackal in Etosha National Park in Namibia

The honey badger pursues the jackal © Dirk Theron

I managed to get a few shots with my camera before the badger chased the jackal off into the bushes. I have never seen anything like this before, absolutely amazing!

Africa, she’s full of surprises!

Honey badger chasing black-backed jackal in Etosha National Park in Namibia

The jackal bolts from the fearless honey badger © Dirk Theron

Ivanhoe

Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year 2018

Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year 2018, brought to you by Land Rover South Africa, with stunning prizes from Canon South Africa and Tanda Tula, will run from December 2017 to the end of April 2018. Click here for more details.

  • Kim Wolhuter

    This seems like typical Rabies behaviour. I saw it in Etosha many years ago where a jackal attacked gemsbok, elephant and other jackals. He died shortly afterwards. Over the next few months I saw 8 jackals die of Rabies.
    This badger seems to be behaving in very much the same way.

    • Simon Espley

      Interesting feedback, thanks

    • Richard White

      I think Kim has got it right. Badger doesn’t look in very good condition at all.

    • Ed Camilleri

      Agree, I think it’s just desperation that drove the poor honey badger to attack such a large creature. Very sad indeed for the badger

    • Aspret

      Aren’t rabid animals both photophobic and hydrophobic? Would the honey badger be drinking? Are the photos maybe just an example of the honey badger’s fearless and aggressive nature?

    • PugTycho

      So sad

  • daktari40

    Interesting your comment. Honey Badger is a notorious provocative, widely known for dealing with animals he can not beat. Irritates easily, aggressive, attack without being disturbed. No wonder most animals avoid him.

Africa Geographic