Meerkat on Guard

Hi. You have a unique attraction just outside Oudtshoorn - several groups of wild meekats, a sub-species that has never been studied before. One group, the Ungulungu group, you can get up-close and personal with, through the ethical, self-taught habituation work of Grant McIlrath, the Meerkatman. Because of the many patient, persevering hours he has spent communicating and calling to this family, they have learnt to trust him. When you are with him, they accept you into their presence, to view the soap opera of their daily lives.

When the meerkats get up in the morning, they love to bravado their skinless, sun-soaking tummies in the direction of the light waking-up over the mountains. With the solid-security of their tripod-like stance, legs and tail, they are energized by the rays of the rising sun. Then, they are off to forage and feed. While doing so one gallant meerkat 'gets up on guard' on a protruding sand hump or thorny-bush tree to watch out for predators - black back jackals, white shouldered kites and others. Safely satisfied someone is watching out the others look for food - spiky scorpions, crunchy beetles and sometimes squishy larvae or wriggly worms. Yummy!!

The poor guy or gal on guard has to starve while he watches his/her pals eat! Why!? Is he/she especially kind? Is it his turn? Her role? None of the above. Research conducted in the Kalahari with Grant and various other professors evidenced that the 'meerkat on guard' was the one who had just eaten and was in the best condition.

Wow, what a lesson for life! When we know how to 'feed' ourselves we are in a better 'condition' to altruistically take care of those we love. If we don’t know who we are and how to take care of ourselves, we often become a liability to others.

I look forward to your inquiries, comments and any life-experience reflections you want to tell me about.

Next week I would like to tell you where I started this journey of self-discovery, with the wild dogs, an endangered animal. Actually, I prefer to call them 'Painted Hunting Dogs'. Until next time…