03 July 2012 by Melanie-Ann Feris

Mission: Finding meerkats in the Karoo

Searching for meerkats and watching them interact in their natural environment is just 1 of a number of activities that is offered in the Klein Karoo.

Meerkats make great photographic subjects

It is still dark when we pile into our vehicle and drive to the rendezvous spot – the scouts had gone out the night before to do a recce, and then got word to us that the mission was a go for the morning.

An Indiana Jones-like figure emerges from behind a huge pick-up truck. It’s going to be a few kilometres’ walk; he points into the still-dark veld outside Oudtshoorn, in the Karoo.

Tourists walk single file into the veld in search of meerkats. Photo: Melanie Feris

We have time for a quick cup of coffee then gather our equipment and follow him, single file, into the unknown.

It’s quiet all around except for the crunching of boots through dry scrub.

‘They’re just behind that riverbed,’' Indy eventually says.

We trudge along.

Every few metres, Indy checks our surroundings for some sign that we are still on the right track. Suddenly he cautions us to be quiet and shows us where to set up our equipment.

Now the waiting game begins. It’s chilly, but at least the sun is starting to rise.

‘Any minute now ... they will come out when it’s a bit warmer,’ he advises.

We wait.

Then a head pops out of a nearby hole. Followed by another and another. The heads cautiously sniff the air, but something makes them scurry back down again.

A nose appears, followed by a furry face, and then the rest of a curious meerkat.

So we sit back and wait again.

Then there’s movement at the entrance to the underground den again. A nose appears, followed by a furry face, and then the rest of a curious meerkat.

One by 1, an entire family of meerkats comes out to bask in the sun.

For the most they completely ignore us and go about the serious business of sunbathing and interacting with each other.

Their antics entertain us for over an hour, until 1 meerkat decides it’s time for breakfast. He scurries away in 1 direction and soon the others scatter too.

We pack up our belongings, and it’s unanimous that this was a successful mission.

Meerkat adventures are conducted by Devey Glinister (aka Indiana Jones): www.meerkatadventures.co.za.

A group of tourists watches meerkats in their natural environment. Photo: Devey Glinister

Category: Wildlife

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