Trouble with a capital T,
but BOY! He's cute!
but BOY! He's cute!
The really good photographers I know are gifted with an artistic foresight that enables them to imagine and plan the photo they want long before they push the shutter button on their cameras. Thus, it was no surprise when I saw my friend Marg Wood crouching in the dirt, camera in hand, and ready for an animal with a fearsome reputation to burst forth from the darkness into the light.
Good idea, I thought, picturing the black and gray critter emerging from a black background, white teeth and dark eyes catching the sunlight.
I look around for a spot to kneel down where I could be at the same level as the animal. I see Marg still hunkered down in the dirt, Mary has fallen off the edge of the rubber tire she was sitting on and is now trapped deep in its well, and Janine has a whirling dervish wrapped around her ankles.
I decide upright is a good place to be.
That critter with the white teeth and long claws is a honey badger, one of the least seen and most frightening animals on earth. This one, however, is a rescued orphan that is being hand-raised at a near-by rescue and educational facility. Just a few weeks old when it was found, it was called by a feminine name until its advancing age and forming male genitalia convinced its caretakers to substitute a male name. And Badgey it became.
Badgey is now a juvenile, or “juvenile delinquent” as Marg calls him. He’s black with a gray mantle down his back. Because he knows only humans, and humans that play with him, he hasn’t developed the anti-social tendencies of his breed, but his play is getting rougher and he is starting to mark his territory with a tell-tale musk.
In general, honey badgers aren’t badgers at all, but are more closely related to weasels and polecats. Though they resemble wolverines, they aren’t closely related to them either. About a foot high and up to 30 inches long plus the tail, the males weigh about 35 lbs.
They are fearless and rated by the Guinness Book of Records and the bravest animal on earth. They chase away lions, Cape buffalo, cattle, and horses if those huge animals intrude on their territory. Their loose hides enable them to twist out of another animal’s bite.
Janine, who is married to Pangolin owner/operator Guts, is one of Badgey’s foster moms. She visits him often and plays with him. I found it fascinating that Badgey obeyed her when she summoned him to his enclosed cage. Then, she opened the door and Badgey shot out into his walled outdoor area, which is why Marg was crouching where she could capture the shot.
Badgey spots Mary on the rubber tire and tries to climb into her lap. Mary is a good sport about it, but Badgey plays rough. Plus, he runs over to his small water pool, walks in it, then runs back through the dirt and climbs on Mary.
Badgey also loves Marg’s semi-open sandals, much to Marg’s dismay. Those sharp little teeth can reach her skin through the openings. In trying to shoo him away, Badgey accidentally leaves his dental autograph on Marg’s forearm.
For the rest of the trip, we wow people by telling them about—and showing them—Marg’s honey badger bite.
|Badgey and Marg's sandals.|
A hard rain begins to fall before we leave the animal compound. We are drenched by the time we get outside to the car and head back to the lodge.
|Trying to protect the cameras.|
Some other denizens of the animal center.
|Caera shy Marabou storks? No, just dissipating heat.|
|A bushbaby. Now that's cute!|