Camera Trap Pictures: Rare Badgers, Mongooses Spotted in Gabon

The best things came in small packages for scientists studying Gabon‘s littlest predators.

For the first time, a team surveyed the west African country for its small carnivores, a group traditionally overlooked by scientists. The investigation turned up 12 species, including badgers, mongooses, civets, and genets.

For their study, the researchers compiled data from animal sightings; studies of bush meat, or wildlife killed for food; and remotely triggered camera traps. (Also read about a National Geographic expedition to Gabon.)

marsh mongoose picture
A marsh mongoose. Photograph courtesy Laila Bahaa-el-din, Panthera

“A lot of the mammals here are quite curious, and all sorts of species come and put their noses up against the cameras,” study co-author Laila Bahaa-el-Din of Panthera, a big-cat conservation group, said by email. (See the best camera-trap pictures of 2012.)

“A honey badger once turned a camera around, and an African golden cat turned one off.”

Badgers, Mongooses, and More

More than 80 percent of Gabon is covered in dense tropical rain forest, and the bigger animals that live in them—such as the great apes, forest elephants, leopards, and African golden cats—have been well documented. Nearly 10 percent of the country’s land is protected. (See pictures of National Geographic Explorer Mike Fay’s “megatransect” of Gabon.)

So the scientists weren’t surprised to find such a high diversity of small carnivores, noted Philipp Henschel, Panthera’s lion survey coordinator, by email.

A servaline genet. Photograph courtesy Laila Bahaa-el-din, Panthera

The most frequently recorded carnivore was the servaline genet (above), which lives throughout the country. The marsh mongoose is another common, widely distributed species, though it’s unfortunately killed by villagers because of its reputation as a poultry predator, according to Bahaa-el-Din, whose study appeared in the July edition of Small Carnivore Conservation.

The Egyptian mongoose, which lives in open habitat across much of sub-Saharan Africa, was discovered only in the savannah regions in southern Gabon. (Take a virtual tour of Gabon’s national parks.)

Egyptian mongoose picture
An Egyptian mongoose. Photograph courtesy Torsten Bohm

More elusive is the honey badger (below), which seems to inhabit patches of the country and is rarely seen.

honey badger picture
A honey badger. Photograph courtesy Laila Bahaa-el-din, Panthera

“Like in other parts of its range, the honey badger has a fearsome reputation among Gabonese communities,” Bahaa-el-Din said, adding that both entirely black and black-and-white badgers have been seen in the country.

Vulnerable Carnivores

The studies also revealed that the carnivores are less abundant and diverse near human settlements—suggesting that if these communities grow, the species could be put under more pressure.

Bahaa-el-Din said that carnivores are “particularly vulnerable” due to multiple threats: the bush meat trade; habitat loss due to deforestation; loss of prey; and hunting, which occurs both to harvest the animals’ body parts for traditional ceremonies and in retaliation for killing livestock.

But knowing the number and location of Gabon’s small carnivores also helps researchers keep track of their populations and develop ways to keep them safe, she said.

What’s more, said Henschel, considering that vast forest regions within Gabon are still unstudied, “it’s likely that the list of small carnivore species confirmed to occur in Gabon will continue to grow.”

Follow Christine Dell’Amore on Twitter and Google+.

Christine Dell'Amore, environment writer/editor for National Geographic News, has reported from six continents, including Antarctica. She has also written for Smithsonian magazine and the Washington Post. Christine holds a masters degree in journalism with a specialty in environmental reporting from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her book, South Pole, was published in 2012.
  • Myababer

    Animals history is the best

  • Bells

    Great to see these pictures. I hope they don’t live in an area that is continually being cleared, perhaps that’s why they have come noticeable? Eventually all wildlife will likely be in small numbers making them vulnerable or non existent. Thanks for sharing these pictures.


    A tecnologia a favor da vida animal. Só assim para vermos criaturas tão magníficas! Parabéns National Geographic.

  • Thorn

    I think they should start relocating them from the humans , putting them into the protected part of the country , and if they don’t already start a wall to somewhat keep the animals in there.

  • Yo Menashe

    I like these pictures taken in the camera trap.

  • Elysia

    Cool creatures. It’s sad how many people have never heard of them–and wouldn’t care about them if they had.

  • carlo corrado

    nature is so various and awfully beautiful

  • Tina

    That servaline genet looks like a cross between a wild cat and a mongoose. Who knows what goes on deep in the jungle.

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      Good description!

  • agravat shailesh d

    i like,wild life is a great ,amazing.

  • Emily DeChambeau

    I really liked the honey bager but i think the others were cool too.

  • juliuslim

    i just wonder how long they can live, when those rare spiecies have been discover by human …

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      A lot of the species seem to be quite plentiful!

  • Gabriela

    I wish you could put those in national parks or in wildlife sanctuaries!

  • adya

    animal facts are the best of all

  • Kerri

    That servaline genet is stunning!

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      I agree!

  • Neatnature.com

    Great pictures, Honey badgers are such badasses.

    I own and run http://www.neatnature.com , the site is dedicated to exactly what this newswatch is all about, weird and bizarre animals and plants! I have written over 75 articles. Given the chance, I’d love to contribute some material to Weird & Wild!!

  • sumairaibrahim

    i liketo study wild life of animals. the study of wild life animals should be use humans benefits

  • Reeyan

    it’s a beauty. ☺

  • Vo Anh Kha

    I love these photos. I once snapped a Vietnamese rhino like this, but I’d lost my photo. It was magnificent!

  • Manoj Sahu

    Realy all snaps are amazing,
    great photographing.

  • p. muchiru

    I love the animals’ kingdom

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