Elusive honey badger sighted in Karnataka forest

Elusive honey badger sighted in Karnataka forest

An elusive carnivorous animal known as Honey Badger has been detected for the first time in Karnataka forests, claims a group of conservationists, who photographed the animal in camera traps in the Cauvery Wildlife sanctuary.

Honey badger or ratel is not a threatened species as per the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. But because of their perceived relative rarity in Indian forests, they are among the most protected animals as per the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.

A group of young conservationists from Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore and Karnataka State Forest Department has come out with first photographic evidence about the presence of a large number of ratels in Karnataka forests. A number of the animals were camera-trapped in the wild. Prior to this, there were only two reported cases of ratel sightings in Karnataka.

There was one animal, caught in the Srinivasapura area in Kolar district, which was kept in the Mysore zoo in the 1970s. A second ratel was rescued from a well in Bangalore Rural district in 2003.

But in the forest, there were 41 sightings of these animals since January 2014, suggesting they may not be uncommon locally, said Sanjay Gubbi, one of the members of the Mysore team.

Out of the five forest ranges of Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, honey badgers were seen in Halagur, Hanur, Kudalli and MM Hills. They were photographed always at night. Out of 41 photos, seven showed ratels in pairs.

As one image was obtained right on the southern boundary of Cauvery wildlife sanctuary, it is possible that because of habitat similarities, these animals may also be found in BRT tiger reserve and similar patches of the forest in Tamil Nadu, the conservationists reported in the journal “Small Carnivore Conservation”.

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