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Ratel/Honey Badger (Mellivora capensis) Fact Sheet: Population & Conservation Status

Population Status

Global population

  • No total population estimates
  • Considered rare or to occur at low densities (Begg et al. 2013)

Density estimates

  • Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
    • 10 individuals/100 km2, though likely lower in many regions of the park (Waser 1980)
  • Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa
    • 3 adults/100km2 (Begg 2001a)
  • Sariska Tiger Reserve, India
    • c. 5.48-6.43 individuals/100 km2 (Gupta et al. 2012)

Conservation Status

IUCN status

  • Least Concern (2015 assessment) (Do Linh San et al. 2016)
    • Broad distribution range
    • Declining population trend
    • Lack of ecological specialization precludes any obvious, potential range-wide declines
    • Localized declines recognized, though currently insufficient to warrant listing in a higher category of threat

CITES status

Other

  • South African Red Data Book
    • Designated as “vulnerable” within the country (EWT 2012)
  • Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (Gupta et al. 2012)
    • Designated under Schedule I; provides absolute protection

Threats to Survival

Persecuted by humans (from Begg 2001b; Begg et al. 2008; Begg and Begg 2002)

  • Targeted by beekeepers and small livestock farmers
    • Ratels climb trees to raid beehives
    • Steel-jawed traps are used to ensnare ratels
    • Poisons are used to kill ratels
  • Indirectly killed by non-selective control programs targeting other predators
  • Exploited for use in traditional medicines and as a source of bushmeat

Management Actions

Populations within protected areas

  • Found in numerous protected areas (Begg et al. 2008)

Legally protected in some countries (from Begg et al. 2008)

  • Middle Asia: Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan
  • Mediterranean region: Israel, Morocco, and Algeria

Needed actions

  • South Africa (from Begg 2001b)
    • Educate and assist beekeepers
      • Reliable cost effective measures to protect beehives can help reduce tension
    • Enforce existing laws prohibiting the killing of ratels

Conflict with Beekeepers

a ratel on a rock

This carnivore has a taste for honey which can bring it into conflict with humans. Unprotected hives of beekeepers  are easy targets for the ratel; a single individual can inflict significant damage to bee colonies. Such (learned) behavior places ratels in conflict with humans, leading some beekeepers to protect their hives by killing ratels. A conservation initiative to make available inexpensive, ratel-proof hives has gained traction. Protective measures, including elevating hives in a manner which prevents the ratel from climbing onto them and securing hive access points, can significantly reduce loss. You can learn more about ratels, beekeepers, and hive protection on this website, maintained by The Honey Badger.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Begg (2001a, b)
Begg and Begg (2002)
Begg et al. (2008)
EWT (2012)
Gupta et al. (2012)
ITIS (2014)
Waser (1980)

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