THIRTEEN’s Nature Showcases
Honey Badgers: Masters of Mayhem
Airing Wednesday, February 19, 2014
They are destructive, often elusive, and oh so clever
The honey badger has earned a reputation as the “tough guy” of the African savannah despite its small size. Sporting a bold black and white coat, this little carnivore swaggers through life equipped with big teeth, heavy claws, and strong jaws which provide some assistance when they seek out and antagonize larger beasts. This well-armed and fearless creature never gives up and never gives in, but its most valuable weapon might just be one of the best brains in all the wild.
Nature follows honey badger specialists in South Africa as they try to study and outwit the clever creatures when Honey Badgers: Masters of Mayhem airs Wednesday, February 19 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). After the broadcast, the episode, narrated by actor Daniel Stern, will be available for online streaming at pbs.org/nature.
Zoologist Low de Vries has been fascinated by honey badgers since he was a child, and sets out to learn more about these feisty creatures whose behavior is still relatively unknown to science. He sets out a camera trap at a perfect spot on the outskirts of Kruger National Park in an attempt to observe the normally elusive animals as they go in and out of a den, but also stakes out a rubbish dump at a safari lodge where they are well-known nightly scavengers. While de Vries’ attempt to film them at the den ends in disappointment, the rubbish dump badgers provide a wealth of entertainment as they chase off porcupines, jackals, and even a large hyena who wander in hoping to share in the spoils. His cameras later follow the badgers into the lodge’s kitchen, where they proceed to ransack the place, even prying open the refrigerator to eat their fill before disappearing back into the night.
Wildlife conservationist Brian Jones, who rescues injured animals, has a soft spot for honey badgers despite the daily challenges he experiences with his pet badger Stoffel. Honey Badgers: Masters of Mayhem chronicles Jones’ tales of Stoffel breaking into his house; attacking other animals at his rehabilitation center, no matter how big or small; and continually outwitting attempts to keep the clever mastermind from escaping a pen that is intended to keep him in. Matching wits and determination with Stoffel has kept Jones busy and full of admiration for more than 20 years.
Despite its name, the honey badger isn’t really a badger at all, but part of the weasel family. However, it does like honey and has become a scourge to beekeepers, shrugging off countless stings as it breaks into their hives. As the program details, beekeeper Guy Stubbs tries to devise a hive that will thwart them, but effective badger-proof hives prove difficult to design. When Stubbs is ready to field test his latest effort, he enlists Stoffel and Hammy, a younger female badger, to try their luck, and can’t believe it when his hopes are dashed yet again.
Nature is a production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET for PBS. For Nature, Fred Kaufman is executive producer. Honey Badgers: Masters of Mayhem is an OSF Wales Production for BBC and THIRTEEN Productions LLC in association with WNET.
Nature pioneered a television genre that is now widely emulated in the broadcast industry. Throughout its history, Nature has brought the natural world to millions of viewers. The series has been consistently among the most-watched primetime series on public television.
Nature has won almost 700 honors from the television industry, the international wildlife film communities, and environmental organizations including 11 Emmys, and three Peabodys. The series received two of wildlife film industry’s highest honors: the Christopher Parsons Outstanding Achievement Award given by the Wildscreen Festival and the Grand Teton Award given by the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. Recently, the International Wildlife Film Festival honored Nature Executive Producer Fred Kaufman with its Lifetime Achievement Award for Media.
PBS.org/nature is the award-winning web companion to Nature featuring streaming episodes, filmmaker interviews, teacher’s guides, and more.
Support for this Nature program was made possible in part by the Arnhold Family in memory of Clarisse Arnhold, the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, the Arlene and Milton D. Berkman Philanthropic Fund, the Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation, by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and by the nation’s public television stations.
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