Just in case you need reminding that honey badgers are some of the most brazen and ferocious of Africa's animals, take a look at this cheeky dessert thief…

Filmed recently in the Xini Lagoon area in Botswana's Moremi Game Reserve, the bold badger crept into a campsite on the hunt for an easy meal – and it found what it was looking for. After an awkward clamber onto the food table (a manoeuvre that involved much ungracious dangling), the determined animal struck gold … apple-pie gold. Unperturbed by the group of onlookers, the burglar helped itself to a sizeable serving before safari guide Kenny Tshoganyetso used a shovel to see it off (don’t worry, the "weapon" was used only to create some noise to scare the badger off).
Nom nom nom ... apple crumble. Image: Tania Kuhl Photography

The honey badger (Mellivora capensis) is a notoriously elusive creature, and it's mostly active at night. Stories abound about the ferocious animal's bulletproof hide, resistance to snake venom and appetite for genitals. But the truth is that we just don't know all that much about these two-toned nightcrawlers.

Aside from campfire tales and snippets from documentaries, there is little scientific evidence that confirms the badger's intelligence and quirky behaviour. But back in 2014, a particularly resourceful honey badger named "Stoffel" astounded wildlife experts with a daring escape from his enclosure at South Africa's Mohololo Rehabilitation Centre. Stoffel's escape antics involved some pretty advanced tool use, which is not something the species had been known for. 

Still, without more research, the badger's cognitive abilities remain a bit of a mystery – but we do know more about the eating preferences of these voracious foragers. Small mammals make up the majority of their prey, but they are known to gobble down everything from reptiles to venomous snakes and small birds (as well as the occasional serving of baked treats). There's even a recorded case of an audacious badger that robbed a brown hyena of its antelope kill! 

True to their name, honey badgers also have an affinity for the sweet stuff, and will raid honeybee nests by using their pungent anal glands to fumigate the hive before ripping at it with their powerful claws. Contrary to popular belief, however, the badgers are not just after the honey – they also scoff down the juicy bee larva.

These solitary foragers have been spotted raiding campsites in a number of other reserves, attracted by the smell of leftovers or discarded food. When threatened, the badgers can become aggressive, but will usually hiss and charge repeatedly before attacking. Much like skunks, badgers are also armed with a pungent defensive mechanism and may resort to secreting a foul-smelling liquid from sacs on either side of the anus.

In this case, a few thumps of a shovel on the ground were enough to deter the hungry animal, but if you come across an unwanted camp visitor like this while on safari, we'd recommend that you keep your distance and let experienced safari guides deal with the situation. You never know, there may just be some truth to that genital myth...
MY dessert. Image: Tania Kuhl Photography