I recently was lucky enough to spend a month travelling in South Africa. The purpose for the visit was primarily to do some very exciting family tree research, to catch up with newly found family members and to get my fill of the African bush and its wonderful inhabitants.
But nothing prepared me for the treat that my lifetime friend had in store when she took me to a private reserve which backs onto Marakele National Park. The reserve had a ‘pet’ meerkat called Foxy.
Foxy had been hand reared, and while quite comfortable around people, she lived in a large hole in the ground and (as she had to feed herself) spent most of her time foraging for insects and beetles to eat.
Her antics were delightful as she happily explored bags and shoes on her frequent forays into the house. Like a small dog, she loved to have her chin tickled and would roll her head over in bliss for as long as you cared to keep going!
As the house was in an area where leopard and lions were known to roam, we were advised not to walk far from the house, and if we did take a stroll, to make sure that Foxy came along too. Her ability to sense danger was amazing. Watching as we went on a few walks, she would stop and smell the air frequently, before dashing off in dizzy happiness to chase and munch on another tasty insect or bug.
After a walk on a particularly warm day, she settled in a favourite spot to cool herself. Belly flat on the cool concrete – paws outstretched over the step, she surveyed her surroundings, making sure all was right in her world.
This little creature was such a delight. I now know a lot more about the personality of meerkats, which will make them a lot more special next time I see them in the wild.