Sweet victory for honey badger campaigners

By Time of article published Jun 3, 2005

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By Robbie Brown

Environmentalists say they have reduced the number of endangered honey badgers killed each year by poison traps set by beekeepers.

By simply hoisting beehives onto protective poles, beekeepers can stop badger raids without killing the animals - and save money at the same time.

Therese Brinkcate, the manager of the Green Trust at the South African arm of the World Wide Fund for Nature, said this practice has greatly decreased the threat to the badger species, which is on South Africa's Red Data list of endangered animals.

In 2001, researchers found that at least 100 badgers were killed by defensive farmers each year.

Now, Brinkcate said, that number has dropped, although she could not provide exact statistics.

"It was a substantial problem when we started the project. We're making major inroads though," she said.

The retailer Woolworths now requires all of its honey suppliers to meet "badger-friendly" standards, which are monitored independently - and every honey bottle is marked with a "badger-friendly" label.

"The senseless killing of honey badgers is both inhumane and unnecessary," said Johan Ferreira, Woolworths head of food technology.

Brinkcate said the elevated beehives are actually cheaper for farmers than laying poison traps.

"The bee farmers save money and the badgers can go elsewhere for food," she said.

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