Sun Angels


“According to popular African belief, meerkats are sometimes referred to as Sun Angels for they are said to have been sent by the Gods to protect lone tribesman and villages from werewolfs of Moon Devils.” – taken from various online resources

the cutest little sun angels – the meerkats of Southern Africa

Yesterday Ryan and I visited one of my favourite places on Route 56 Oudtshoorn –  a pock-marked field filled with hundreds of holes and warrens – home to a family of Meerkats ( a.k.a Suricates a.k.a  Mongooses ).  We got up at 5.15 am to be at the demarcated T- junction to meet our guide Devey Glinister at 7.15 am. Devey is a character of note with a lot of interesting things to say and – luckily- he loves to talk ! We drove the short distance down to the meerkat field and Devey and his staff rolled out some most welcome,  hot coffee and rusks.  Devey owns the aptly named Meerkat Adventures and a link to his site appears below should you want to enjoy this visit.

Meerkat Adventures Logo

Meerkat Adventures Logo

After watching some four-striped field mice eats rusk crumbs we picked up our chairs and ambled down the short slope to the warren of the day. This is the warren that our field guides believed the meerkats to be from observing them the day before. Meerkats move around quite a bit and may sleep in a different warren each night- as they will have excavated quite a few within their normal range. The same family – have a number of burrows in this area. Tricky little blighters!  Meerkats spend from 10 to 60 minutes on sentry duty as the sun comes up. Generally males commit to this duty more frequently than females but all group members will do lookout at some point.  One of the smaller males came out to see who we were and what we wanted. As the meerkat squizzed at us he warmed his tummy in the sun and yawned a lot.

the sentry came out first to have a look

the sentry came out first to have a look

Once he was happy that we weren’t going to cause  any harm- the sentry called a mate to have a second check.

a second meerkat soon joined the sentry

a second meerkat soon joined the sentry

Once the two mongooses ( or is it mongeese 😉 ) were happy with us – a whole lot of little faces appeared and within seconds half the family were lined up to warm furry little tummies.

soon half the family was there... within seconds in fact

soon half the family was there… within seconds in fact

I could quickly see why meerkats are loved so much by people. Their little faces are so alert and endearing. Devey is supremely knowledgeable about the little guys- and all this just through hours and hours of dedicated observation. Everything he knows, Devey has learned through patiently watching the sun angels as they go about their daily chores. Devey speaks quite “matter-of-factly” about his tiny wards- it seems to me that Devey may be trying to maintain a barrier. Life is tough in Africa and on occasions- farmer’s poison or even snake poison may obliterate an entire warren at once. Perhaps that “distance” he maintains is wise?  Certainly you can learn a lot by just listening to what Devey has to share. I have visited Meerkat Adventures a few times now and each time- Devey  tells completely new anecdotes.  I love it as nothing is rehearsed, it is all natural. The animals are left to go about their daily chores as they would usually do- were no-one around. Oh… how I wish all animal interactions were run like this. Humans come into the wild-  and into the animals territory- for just an hour- and off the animals go- wild and free to continue their daily lives as we do ours. A highly recommended trip.

In this album Devey weaves his magic and the sun angels- theirs!

http://www.meerkatadventures.co.za/

Fiona Ayerst

May 2014

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