No respect for apex carnivores: Distribution and activity patterns of honey badgers in the Serengeti

Maximilian L. Allen, Brittany Peterson, Miha Krofel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Honey badgers are cryptic carnivores that occur at low densities and range across large areas. The processes behind site-level honey badger abundance and detection rates are poorly understood, and there are conflicting results about their avoidance of larger carnivores from different regions. We used data from 224 camera traps set up in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania to evaluate patterns in detection rates, spatial distribution, and activity patterns of honey badgers. Our top models showed that the relative abundance of larger carnivores (e.g., African lions, Panthera leo, and spotted hyenas, Crocuta crocuta) was important, but surprisingly was positively related to honey badger distribution. These results suggest that honey badgers were not avoiding larger carnivores, but were instead potentially seeking out similar habitats and niches. We also found no temporal avoidance of larger carnivores. Honey badgers exhibited seasonal variation in activity patterns, being active at all times during the wet season with peaks during crepuscular hours, but having a strong nocturnal peak during the dry season. Our detection rates of honey badgers at individual camera traps were low (3402 trap nights/detection), but our study shows that with adequate effort camera traps can be used successfully as a research tool for this elusive mustelid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-94
Number of pages5
JournalMammalian Biology
StatePublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Abundance
  • Activity patterns
  • Distribution
  • Honey badger
  • Interspecific interactions
  • Mellivora capensis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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