In March 2016 BiOME returned to Western Sahara to continue our on-going research work into the region’s fauna. It had been one year to the day since our previous expedition during which we had deployed a number of camera-traps around massifs in the south of the territory. Roll on one year and the results are in!
The undoubted highlight was a trio of Honey Badgers (or Ratels) Mellivora capensis (adult and two cubs) that were photographed not long after midnight on 9th March 2016, just one day prior to our arrival! Association Nature Initiative, the local conservation organization based in Dakhla, believes that this is the first record of this species in the area for around 25 years!
Whilst the majority of ungulates and larger carnivores have been extirpated from the region, our long-term camera-trapping work has shown many of the medium-sized carnivores and generalist predators still maintain a foothold.
Honey Badgers naturally occur at very low densities throughout their range (sub-Saharan Africa extending into Morocco, the Arabian Peninsula, Turkmenistan and the Indian Subcontinent). They occur in a variety of habitat types and are opportunistic, generalized carnivores. Whilst classified as ‘Least Concern’ on the International Union for the Conservation of Natures (IUCN) ‘Red List of Threatened Species’ this species has declined in many parts of its range and is directly persecuted in some areas either deliberately or indirectly as part of non-selective control programmes.