Botswana

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An African love story

An African love story

An African love story
FAUSTO CARBONE

FAUSTO CARBONE

Anyone who has spent time with one of Africa’s most successful hunters, the painted or the Cape hunting dog, commonly known as the wild dog, will know its crafty hunting techniques and pure determination, which inevitably result in a successful hunt.

On the other side of the scale, weighing about half as much, is Africa’s toughest, bravest and most fearless mammal, the honey badger or ratel; a tough creature indeed that will stand its ground when attacked or provoked, irrespective of the size of the assailant.

So, when you get a determined attacker twice your weight with four times your numbers, the outcome should be easy to work out, right? Read on...

In a quiet area of the Selinda Concession, not far from Selinda Camp in Botswana, a pack of nine wild dog find a pair of honey badgers unusually walking around during the day.

 

The pack works quickly as a team, and it’s not long before the badgers are separated.

 

The attacks are relentless, coming from all sides. It’s only a matter of time before fatigue sets in. The female is the first to show the signs. As the attacks continue, the group surrounding the female are getting closer and closer with more bites successfully reaching the loose skin of the tiring badger.

All seems to be lost for the female as her last energy reserves are sapped out of her body. For the first time, as far as I can remember in my quarter of a century as a guide, I feel a sick feeling in my stomach at the thought that she will be killed and the male will be left without a partner. I don’t normally take sides during hunts, but this time I felt for the badgers.

I am getting ready to accept the inevitable when out of the pack where her partner is also fighting for his life, through the dust, noise and pungent smell, emerges the male - heading toward the other group where his partner was about to become his ex. Now he started fighting with that group of dogs while he still has his own attackers following him. There he was, in the middle of this ever decreasing arena, surrounded by nine dogs and an almost unresponsive partner.

 

With a burst of energy, he grabs his partner and drags her to the base of a nearby tree. Here at least he is protected on one side and can defend his companion.

 

The fight continues, and the female begins to regain her strength.

 

 

As unexpected as his previous act of bravery, the badger chose the right time to execute his final plan. At a slight lull in the fight, he grabbed the female by the scruff of her neck and dragged her toward and into a hidden hole in the ground. The dust finally settled, the canine sounds stopped and, although the badger’s stink still lingered in the air, the bird sounds could be heard once more. I felt relieved. If there ever was an animal award for bravery, this male deserves it!

ALL IMAGES FAUSTO CARBONE

More from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (December 2013)

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