Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Honey Badger

On holiday in Africa, I'm getting on very well with my Thai friend B. After Victoria Falls, where we went white water rafting on the Zambezi, we head to Botswana for a week on safari.

Both safari camps that we stay at had one unexpected feature. No mobile phone or internet connectivity at all! I was in deep shock for the first couple of days, but I gradually got used to it. I'm also sure that being completely off the grid for a week did both me and my Thai friend B a lot of good, in terms of allowing us to relax and unwind. And watching wild animals on safari is always amazing :-).

"LOOK!" says our guide, while we're driving back to our tented camp in our jeep one evening, "Two honey badgers :-)!!"

Unfortunately it's dusk, and there's not enough light to take a photo. But there are two animals that do indeed look like badgers, scurrying along by the roadside.

"Hang on a minute," says the guide, and he veers the jeep off road to drive alongside the two cute little animals.

Almost all the animals that I've ever seen on safari have either ignored the jeep (that's what the big cats like lions and leopards do), or run away from it (that's what the vegetarians like giraffes and zebras do). But all of a sudden, the little honey badgers stop and turn towards the jeep, and growl viciously. The guide laughs, as though he expected that behaviour, but I'm mildly taken aback. The honey badgers are so small compared to the jeep. A big cat could in theory jump on the jeep and do some serious damage to us, but what on earth could a honey badger do?

A few days later at the next safari camp, during the evening meal, the topic of which jungle animal we'd all like to be comes up.

"One of the big cats, I guess," I say without much thought, "perhaps a leopard. Lions are impressive, but leopards are much more elegant!"

"I'd like to be a honey badger :-)!" says our guide with an enormous grin on his face.

"Really," I say surprised, "we saw a couple of honey badgers at our last camp, and they turned out to be vicious little creatures. What's so special about them?"

"When you get home, look up 'nasty honey badger' on youtube," laughs our guide, knowingly. "Then you'll know why I'd choose to be one of them!"

And indeed, when I get back to London I find the following youtube video. The narration is hilarious, and quite camp too so my guess is that narrator is gay. In any case, having seen the video, I completely understand why someone might want to be a honey badger!

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