February 28, 2015

A Rare Sighting at Tadoba

Tadoba is affably called the Land of the Tigers. Owing to high density of tigers and a relatively smaller park size – a sighting of this magnificent animal is actually not so uncommon here!

So this story is about what would be considered a rare sighting at Tadoba…. Honey Badgers are nocturnal creatures and in nature very secretive, it is hence, one of the most difficult animals to spot on a safari.

It is the morning of 28th of February 2015; I am on a usual game drive with my guests heading back towards the lodge without a tiger in the bag! Understandably the mood in the car is a little low…Out of the blue comes a honey badger out of its hole and straight on the side of the road. Now at this point I must mention that I am working in Tadoba for last 4 years, spending almost 9 hrs in the forest everyday, and never had a sighting of a Ratel before! Shocked and out of words I grabbed the driver by his collar, which instinctively made him push the brakes hard. The car did stop, but with a lot of noise, and I thought the golden opportunity of seeing the animal up close is gone forever.... But what happened next shocked us all... the badger instead of running away from the vehicle, walked towards it in a very calm manner. My guide Sanjay sitting in the front seat, confused about the identity of this queer animal kept turning the pages of his field guide. My guest who had already encountered a honey badger once before in Africa, was also amazed by seeing the confidence of this creature in close proximity to humans. We waited there for the next ten minutes, seeing the animal as it foraged for food in the termite mounds. Three more safari jeeps which were waiting at a distance unaware of the sighting, got suspicious seeing the activity in our car, started coming towards us, the badger looked around, sniffed the air and gracefully walked away from our sight... by the time the other jeeps reached, the badger was no where to be seen ...but our memories are intact forever from this picture our guest took!

The honey badger (Mellivora capensis), is also known as the ratel, and is a species of mustelid. It is native to Africa, Southwest Asia, and the Indian Subcontinent.

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