Saturday, November 15, 2008

That's quite a reputation my friend

Today we turn away from honeybees a bit and look toward the honey badger, which had quite a ferocious reputation in the last century.

1947 Stevenson- Hamilton (the first warden of the Kruger National Park, South Africa) added to the increasingly formidable reputation of honey badgers by reporting that they killed ungulates (buffalo Syncerus caffer, waterbuck Kobus ellipsiprymnus and wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus) by castration and the resulting fatal haemorrhage. By the 1960’s this had become a common feature of species accounts and the naturalist George Sweeney took it a step further by recounting the story of four tribesmen who encountered a honey badger, which “hamstrung one of the men, clawed another and castrated him with one clean bite”. Some species accounts were then extended to include warnings that “it will attack a human adversary in the same way, swarming up the legs and, it is said, very often attempting to attack the genital organs” (Astley Maberley 1963). Although frequently recounted, no recent (post 1950) or first hand accounts of honey badgers castrating animals (or man) are available and this strongly suggests this is folklore. Certainly honey badgers were never seen to castrate an animal in the southern Kalahari.


I'm almost sad that it didn't really run about castrating much larger animals, but not as sad as the television producer I'm imagining who would have thought he/she could do a series that combined the best of Meerkat Manor and Battlebots...

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