Honey badgers in the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) are definitely not a common sighting.
In fact, scientists were not even sure that they were still around, but historical journal entries dating back to the 1700s and 1800s, and a single newspaper article in the 1980s show that they used to occur in the area. Then, a badger was accidentally captured in Silvermine late last year (2015).
This particular badger walked into a trap meant to capture caracals for research purposes, begging the question whether there were more. Plans were already in the pipeline to ‘reintroduce’ the missing mammal to the park.
“We did not have firm confirmation that there were still badgers in the peninsula until that one was caught,” says Carly Cowell, SANParks regional ecologist at the Cape Research Centre. “Now we would like to find out if there are more and where they are.” And, they need your help to do it. Records of sightings will be important as new animals should not be introduced in home ranges of existing animals.
Honey badgers are generalised carnivores and play an important role in the ecosystem to keep populations of insects, rodents and small mammals in check. They are primarily hunters, but will also scavenge.
Cowell says that they generally occur in low densities across most of their range so they wanted to release a single pair into Cape Point. They will be collared to monitor their movement. First, they need to know if there are indeed still badgers left in the TMNP.
Have you seen one in and around the national park? Please send your photos and sightings details to [email protected]
Written by René de Klerk – SANParks Times Reporter
Picture: Urban Caracal Project
Content courtesy of SANParks Times: www.sanparkstimes.co.za