Lion and Honey Badger: a desperate struggle

July 5, 2011, 1:00 PMBy: |60 Comments | Tags: Lion and honey badger
Photographs taken by Shane Saunders

On an early morning drive down the Auob River, just before the Dalkeith Waterhole, we happened upon one of nature's darker sides. A young male lion was attacking a honey badger and her baby. She put up a long and desperate struggle to protect herself and her youngster, but eventually the lion managed to break her back and she dragged herself off to hide in the nearby grass. The lion returned to find the baby hiding amongst a fallen Kameeldoring. I captured the below images of the tragic event. It left us disturbed, but I suppose nature must take its course. By Shane Saunders.


Shane Saunders took these photographs in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. His photograph, of the lion looking towards the camera, was awarded first place in the fourth round of the Captured Experiences animal and behaviour category. Visit to see some of the other winning images.

Shane used a Nikon D700 camera, lens: 70-200mm F2.8 VR, ISO 200, shutter speed: 1/1000.

Add Your Comment
Charmaine says:What an event to witness. Sad but thats nature!
Posted on: July 11, 2011, 4:27 PM
Ken Saunders says:Great photography! Not nice to see but it made a wonderful series of the action. Keep up the good work!
Posted on: July 11, 2011, 9:51 PM
Your Name Here says:How sad
Posted on: July 18, 2011, 12:37 PM
James says:Think the lion was lucky to get away without being hurt.
Posted on: July 19, 2011, 4:03 PM
Brett says:Excellent photo's Shane, can only be a Nikon..LOL, very sad but a common occurrence with lions and badgers, the problem with the badger is it thinks it's a lot bigger and stonger than what it really is.
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 10:37 AM
Elke Swart says:What an amazing specimen of Lion. he is Beautiful and in such good condition. Shame for the Honey Badger.Really nice to see such action photo's. Good Job. Thanks, Elke
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 10:41 AM
Brian says:What atremendous series of pictures, nature "red in tooth and claw" beautifully captured
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 10:43 AM
John says:Right place at the right time. Fantastic photos.
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 11:01 AM
Elize says:beautiful pics !
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 11:06 AM
Hlupheka says:That lion should be ashamed of itself, LOL! Anyways thats nature for you: you eat the weak for a snack
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 11:18 AM
Attie and Skieppie Vermaak says:Fantastic. Kgalagadi is just the best. We visited in June (for the 8th time) and cannot wait to go again.
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 11:22 AM
Vivienne says:What an incredible experience and awesome pics - although the story had a sad ending
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 11:25 AM
michelle van gent says:nature is cruel and amazing, the baby would of most probably died without his mommy.........wonderful pics although
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 11:33 AM
Klaus Wiegmann says:Yes a scene you only witness once in a life time Cruel but that is the course of Nature We know the Dalkieth area well and visit the Kgalagadi park yearly
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 11:33 AM
brian belcher says:A reflexion of life both animal and human
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 11:45 AM
Bernard H says:Great pictures, that`s nature`s way, poor honey badger, sometimes you should run & hide, not stand & fight!
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 11:50 AM
Maureen says:Yes, nature can be a harsh reality but thanks to your photography we can experience the unsurpassed beauty of it even at that very moment. Thanks and well done
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 11:55 AM
Rusty says:C'est la vie in nature! Magnificent in it's cruellest mood as much as in its most sublime.
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 12:01 PM
Johan du Preez says:Lions are always opportunist hunters and scavengers (even when in good shape), unfortunatly this badger was at the wrong place at the wrong time!
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 12:24 PM
Laetitia Kennedy says:Would rather not witness the cruel side of nature, though I know it is necessary for survival in the food chain.
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 12:39 PM
Denise says:Superb photography...just a very sad but real event.
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 12:47 PM
Amanda Hanekom says:Very sad, but that's part of nature. Beautiful pictures.
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 12:59 PM
maïté and nathalie says:what a wonderful event !since 18 years we are looking for ....
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 1:37 PM
Hannelie says:Breaks my heart to see this, nature's rule is that only the fittest will survive unfortunately. Pic's really awesome.
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 1:53 PM
Russell says:Awesome stuff to witness. An animal will give her life to protect her young. Us humans have disposable babies. Everything is disposable, including nature.
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 2:35 PM
ralph says:Thanks Shane, these are amazing pictures. We seldom think about life like that.
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 2:36 PM
Margaret says:Fanastic pics - sad about the Honey badger
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 2:41 PM
Grace Levitt says:Hello Shane, Nice to meet you by our "plug-in message pads" You must have been a tad sad to see this little creature getting taken out by his huge "opponent" - the Queen of the jungle should have picked on something her own size. But what outstanding photography. Thank you for sharing it with me.
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 3:06 PM
Ralf Klomann says:Real grate pics and very exciting happening, we are lucky to be able to see these happenings in nature still. Well done!!!!
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 3:36 PM
Leon van den Hoeck says:Hi Shane, thanks for sharing your experience with us. Very moving but brilliant photography nontheless.
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 3:52 PM
Lynne Jones says:So sad, I love honey badgers such plucky little creatures. What a long painful death for mum.
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 3:53 PM
Bernice Abrahams says:we have just come bach from Kruger park and would have loved to see a lion, stayed at pretorius kop camp what lovely photographs
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 4:20 PM
Valmai says:What great photography! Congratulations!
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 4:30 PM
Sam says:Nature's dark side is an apt description of this sequence. The photographs are brilliant
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 5:12 PM
Andy says:unreal!
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 5:35 PM
Isabel Eloff says:Mothers are wonderful and lesson to the human race
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 6:24 PM
Jade says:Awesome photos! Beautiful animals. I just find myself wondering how many of the posts commenting on the sadness of the situation are from people who enjoy a good steak or hamburger and have ever gone to a slaughterhouse to see how HUMANS kill their food. Blessed Be.
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 7:49 PM
Philip says:Die arme ratel. Uistekende fotografie
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 8:38 PM
Your Name Here says:Jade I agree with you wholeheartedly !!! Nature and man are so cruel - but that's the way it is. Wish we could change things. These photos are superb though !!! Well done Shane.
Posted on: July 20, 2011, 9:00 PM
Lettie Naude says:Very graphic display of determination by both animals - and always one must lose!
Posted on: July 21, 2011, 11:25 AM
Dve James says:So very sad but nature has it's ways
Posted on: July 21, 2011, 12:32 PM
Your Name Here says:Absolutely fantastic pics!!!.....thank you for sharing this with us!!!
Posted on: July 21, 2011, 12:59 PM
Michael says:Wow, those photos are world class! Beautiful! Well done.
Posted on: July 21, 2011, 1:39 PM
Posted on: July 21, 2011, 4:25 PM
Hettie Roets says:Beautifull photo's, which we were there
Posted on: July 22, 2011, 5:36 AM
Dennisd says:Hoewel tragies, is dit uitstekende foto's. Baie geluk. Kan nie verstaan hoekom party mense so gelukkig kan wees nie. :-)
Posted on: July 22, 2011, 10:18 AM
Renelle says:What stunning pictures!! Going to Kgalagadi in December. Can't wait. Maybe I'll be able to to post some good pictures when I get back.
Posted on: July 22, 2011, 3:50 PM
lucy says:Always sad to see the this sort of thing although in Nature but conditions in the wild are very different from the human society - and I guess its no worse than us humans eating veal and lamb? Great set of pics tho.
Posted on: July 22, 2011, 4:45 PM
Anne Bindoff says:It is that heroic honey badger that has provided the meal for that lion to live until its next meal. WE are fortunate we do not regularly see the tragedy of the abattoirs especially of the factory chicken slaughter houses. In this case the Honey Badger was a wild and free animal that possibly had more than 2 offspring. Statistically it has been replaced, so the loss of this brave creature and this offspring is not seen in nature. We have a LOT of introspection to do, as we do not kill our meat directly. That slaughter is a tragedy!! Thanks for the photos of the sad but real side of sustainability in nature.
Posted on: July 22, 2011, 5:45 PM
Barbara Muller says:We showed these photographs to our grandchildren - who are great lovers of the "wild" and one commented..."Granny, they are only doing what Cats do!!" Exceptional photo's...thanks for sharing.
Posted on: July 23, 2011, 12:13 PM
Your Name Here says:Awesome !!! Nature takes care of it's own.The hunter will hunt and stop at nothing
Posted on: July 29, 2011, 1:29 PM
Shirlee Smit says:Very good pictures, feel sorry for the Honey Badger, but in nature, if you are hungry, you eat.
Posted on: July 30, 2011, 12:25 PM
Bert Palthe says:We were here as well, in fact the first vehicle there similar photos just different angle. Tragic but unique experience, by late afternoon the lion had not eaten the little badger but when passing there the next morning nothing remained. Photos can be down loaded if need be. Bert
Posted on: August 19, 2011, 11:49 AM
Your Name Here says:Everybody misunderstood honey badgers are badass animal but honey badgers are nothing more than a weak animals compare to top predator.
Posted on: November 15, 2011, 8:32 PM
marge B says:Such a wonderful viewing. Great pHotographs. Well done.
Posted on: February 22, 2014, 10:25 AM
michael chait says:Natural happenings, very lucky spot. Thanks.
Posted on: June 10, 2014, 10:00 PM
Chris says:Sad, but that is what happens. Surprised the ratel didn't put up more of a fight - they normally give more than their weight in a fight especially when there are young around.
Posted on: June 11, 2014, 12:49 PM
Lione Miles says:What bravery. Oh, dear.
Posted on: June 14, 2014, 10:02 PM
Your Name Here says:Dabs Dalton Superb Photography unfortunately this is part of nature
Posted on: August 10, 2014, 8:49 PM
Your Name Here says:i hate lions thats just crultey to BABY BADGERS ! badgers are so cute they don't caoughs any harm so SAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted on: February 13, 2015, 5:29 PM