Honey Badger and the Long walk. An early start on a mild winters day in the Mabuasehube Game Reserve in Botswana. I crossed the two spoor track roads of the Kalahari dunes. The morning colours of the desert guiding me towards the Mabuasehube pans. The next destination of my winters visits the Kalahari. The roads were patterned with lion, eland, gemsbok, hyena and ground squirrel tracks. Kori bastards hid in the long tall yellow grass and in contrast, the pale chanting goshawks were ever-present. I noticed four striped mice playing kamikaze with the Land Cruiser and the remains of tsamma’s next to the road.
Suddenly fresh Honeybadger tracks appeared in the right-hand sandy track. The imprint of the animal track seemed awkward. Every 100 meters or so there was an imprint in front of the track, almost as if it was carrying something, but putting it down periodically and resting before continuing. The progress of the tracks excited me, perhaps the honey badger has harvested some honeycombs, found some scavenged food or even hunted something.
The morning sharpened and changed from just driving the dune road to actual wildlife tracking in the Kalahari, making me think I am a conservationist tracking an animal to observe behaviour. This new focus became intense curiosity about what might be around the next sandy corner of the Kalahari. Often you follow a track for miles and only to discover that the animal has veered off into the tall yellow grass. Usually, the animals are hiding from the blistering heat of the Kalahari, but today there was a cool breeze in the air.
As I was tracking the Honeybadger, my excitement and anticipation were growing, as this is my favourite mammal of all times. I followed the tracks for four kilometres and became more and more intrigued with what might be ahead. Around the next bend, I saw something that brought me up short. All my expectations were exceeded and it was difficult to contain my excitement. It was even harder to find my camera and decide how to document the sight. The moment was almost too stupendous to be true. There she was, the indomitable mother honey badger with her young in her mouth. She had been carrying her baby for the last 5 kilometres. The fresh lion tracks surrounding her tracks explained her urgency. The mother badger paused for a short while and allowed us to get a good look at her and her young before she decided to take a right turn across the dunes, hopefully towards safety or a new den.
The incredible experience of tracking the Honey Badger, locating and documenting her became one of my most favourable experiences of the Kalahari. This is one good reason why I keep going back and host travellers that seek a wild experience in the Kalahari.
HP.Fotosafari Adventures in Southern Africa.