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Published: September 30th 2017
Geo: -34.0618, 23.3817
The honey badger - one of the the more recent celebrities of the animal world, after a video showcasing its bad-ass aggressiveness went viral, attaining over 54 million hits on Youtube, and also today's star at the Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness and Rehabilitation Centre. The primary focus of Tenikwa is actually the rehabilitation of African Wildcats, including caracals, cervals, and cheetahs (yup - we never heard of those first two either), but Badgie the honey badger captivated everybody on our tour today.
Tenikwa not only rescues animals from the wild, and also from animal encounter attractions where they have been abused and exploited, but also from private homes, if you can believe that. Apparently it isn't uncommon for African families to keep dangerous wildcats as pets, and even a honey badger. Haven't they seen the video where the honey badger kills cobras? Haven't they heard stories of it fighting off multiple lions at a time, and also attacking elephants? Why would you want to keep such an aggressive little bastard as a pet?
Of course, a family did in fact raise Badgie, resulting in the World's one and only docile honey badger, making him a delight to watch. He's kind of
Cheetahs On The Prowl ...
... though supposedly tame, the manner in which these cheetahs stalked back and forth along the fence, carefully eyeing us, hinted at the true aggressive nature of these animals.
ugly in a way, yet strangely cute, especially as he shuffles along as only a honey badger can, with the goofiest walk imaginable, and when he lies on his back, playing with his toes like a human infant.
Surprisingly, Badgie is allowed to roam freely amongst the baboons at Tenikwa, which are also considered extremely dangerous animals when encountered in the wild, though are fairly docile here, as they are used to human contact. In the wild, a honey badger would probably make short work of the baboons, but Badgie is different, as we were told he is often picked on by the baboons, slapping him around in a joking manner. But Badgie takes it all in stride, goofily walking away without retaliating, except for one isolated instance where he bit one of the baboons.
Tenikwa is renowned for its cheetah encounters, where visitors can actually walk a cheetah like a dog, except that it's the cheetah who usually winds up walking the human. It is the World's fastest animal after all, capable of hitting 120 kph in under three seconds, so I could imagine them dragging people along for one hell of a ride! Unfortunately, we didn't think to book
... very cute when scratching its face on the fence, but we were warned not to get too close, as it liked to claw at people's toes.
far enough ahead and weren't able to participate, though that didn't detract from our overall experience at Tenikwa.
They do some pretty amazing work here, and the staff's love of animals is evident, even though I'm sure it is difficult and largely thankless work. At least people can show a bit of their appreciation by visiting this very special and unique attraction, with the entrance fees going towards a very worthwhile cause. Maybe you'll even be rewarded by spending some quality time with Badgie!
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