July 18 – For a while the mission kept a number of chickens in a pen and coop, and it seemed that their number was diminishing steadily. Something was getting into the pen and eating the chickens, so Dad set a jaw trap where there was a depression under the fence.
When he went back the next day, there in the trap was a savage, snarling, honey badger, or ratel. For its size the ratel may be the most savage and fearless predator on earth. It is the size of a European badger, and is light colored on its back and dark colored below.
In the process of getting the animal out into the open, it managed to bite Dad on the knee. He shot it and the Africans on the mission all wanted the carcass, for ratels were regarded with awe and superstition by the natives and they all desired a piece of the hide for magical purposes. Later it was found that even the household of one of the highly regarded African pastors had hidden a piece of that hide in their home. In after years when Dad developed arthritis in his knees, the Africans said it was caused by the ratel bite!
Ratels are known as honey badgers because of their love for honey. They don’t seem to mind a few stings and with their strong claws they will tear open a bee tree and feast on the bee grubs and honey.
There is a small African bird known as the honey guide, and it will guide ratels or people to a bee tree and sit near by, waiting for the tree to be torn open so it can eat the wax and grubs. The bird flies ahead of the ratel or person, chattering steadily as it goes from tree to tree until the bee tree is reached. I know this is a fact because I have personally been led to a bee tree by a honey guide. There is a saying that if one does not leave some wax and grubs for the bird, next time it will lead you to a lion! – DALE