Most of have heard of an aardvark or a meerkat. These words are actually in Afrikaans, one of the 11 official languages of South Africa. Each of these animals has an English name but is rarely heard, even in English speaking countries.
Aardvark, meaning ‘earth pig’ in Afrikaans is ‘Ant Bear’ in English. This is a highly elusive, nocturnal creature that has strong claws, a long snout and a special long sticky tongue perfect for finding hidden termites and ants, it’s complete diet. They are incredibly clever. As the sun sets the insects will move to the west side of their mound to have the last warmth before night. The aardvark knows this and will dig on the western side of a mound to find a meal. Toward the morning, the ants move to the east, as does the digging of the aardvark. It’s also a great indicator for us as guides on what time an aardvark was in an area, giving us a chance to spot one.
Meerkat, means ‘lake cat’ in Afrikaans, is ‘Suricate’ in English. This cute, lovable little creature is always very busy. They have tight knit family groups that rely heavily on each other for survival. A sentinel or look out, watches the area to be able to alert of impending danger, such as hawks, as others dig and feed on insects.
I have raised three meerkats, two males and a female. The first a male was someone’s pet and he became too much for them to handle. We took care of him for years and one day he decided to move away from the house to start his own clan. The second two were found in the reserve in dire shape, as they were quite young and had obviously both lost their families. They fell in love and whilst awake and sleeping are constantly calling to us and each other.