The Kalahari is a place where some of the most interesting relationships between different species is revealed. There is evidence of symbiosis all over the bush, but somewhat famously, the honey badger provides for a variety of different species as it goes about its business foraging through the Kalahari scrub. On a mobile journey with Afrika Ecco Safaris, guests had the pleasure of camping in Deception Valley for 3 nights before moving on to the Makgadikgadi Pans, the Delta, Moremi… the list goes on! One early morning game drive through this slice of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, our attention was drawn to the rising dust and the flutter of wings just ahead.
A juvenile pale-chanting goshawk exhibiting its tawny plumage and distinctive, sharp, yellow eyes landed on the ground right next to the dust cloud, which was revealed to be the result of a digging honey badger! This interesting symbiotic relationship is well developed in the Kalahari habitat where both species thrive in the semi-arid environment. The vicious little creature we know as the honey badger, or ratel, is famous for getting its way and its clawed paws are highly adept at digging. Out here in the wide open Deception Valley, many other creatures take full advantage of the honey badger’s bulldozer-like foraging skills and snatch up any creatures that make a break from the honey badgers menacing claws.
The pale-chanting goshawk is on the look out for small mammals, rodents, and reptiles that emerge from their hiding places in the low-lying vegetation and holes in the sand to evade the honey badger, and if the goshawk is lucky, it is fast enough to make a meal out of them! Goshawks are also known to follow snakes like Cape cobras for the same reasons, and it has been reported that as many as 6 goshawks have followed a single badger in the hopes of catching a free meal. Take a look at the footage captured by cinematographer Kevin MacLaughlin as Afrika Ecco guests enjoyed watching this commensalistic relationship in action.