An Emirati farmer has caught a honey badger that killed and ate about Dh80,000 ($21,785) worth of livestock.
Ali Hasan Al Qaydi, 33, said it killed at least 35 sheep on his farm in Al Musaili, Ras Al Khaimah over two years.
He told The National that he finally caught the honey badger last Thursday after setting up a series of traps and managed to move it into a metal cage.
Honey badgers are native to Africa, parts of Asia and the Indian subcontinent, but are rarely found in the Gulf. They can attack humans if provoked.
In a video filmed before he handed the animal over to the authorities, it is seen snarling and baring its teeth inside the cage.
“I didn’t know what kind of animal I was after. From its foot prints near water I assumed it was a wolf,” Mr Al Qaydi said on Sunday.
In total, it killed 35 of his livestock and wrecked beehives on his property.
“Some of the livestock he ate cost me Dh16,000 each," he said.
Mr Al Qaydi’s cousin, who runs a nearby farm, lost 15 sheep to attacks three months ago.
They believe it was the same honey badger because the animals suffered similar wounds and there were familiar footprints near by.
“There might be others and not just this one," Mr Al Qaydi said.
He set up traps across the farm using raw meat as bait. When that failed, he set up four cages at a stream near to where he believed the honey badger lived.
“While checking the traps on the morning of last Thursday, I saw that it had been caught by one," he said.
He first heard rumours of a predator attacking livestock about four years ago.
Mr Al Qaydi sent a video of the captive creature to friends and relatives – and soon received calls and messages from people he did not know offering to buy it.
Private ownership of wild and dangerous animals is banned under federal law. The authorities have sought to tackle a culture that associates big cats and unusual species with wealth and prestige.
“I was offered Dh50,000 to sell it but I refused to do something illegal and called the authorities,” he said.
Handlers from Sharjah Environment and Protected Areas Authority collected the animal.
Sharjah banned the private ownership of dangerous animals before the federal law came in and has experts in the field.
Dr Iftikhar Raza, from Pawsitive Veterinary Clinic in Dubai, said honey badgers could be vicious, but that attacks on humans were rare unless an animal was provoked.
“It has a very thick skin and ferocious defensive abilities," he said.
“Unlike other predators, badgers do surplus killing. They don’t attack humans unprovoked, but when caught or in a serious situation, they can attack any species, even humans.
“There are definitely others in the area as this one looks healthy and must have been born here. But I doubt it has been kept as a pet.”