Walk with meerkats in the Free State
Did you know?
Only the dominant male and female meerkats in the colony mate. All members look after the pups.
‘Most people want to know how long they live, the length of their gestation period and how many pups they have,’ says Shelton Kanyoka who leads the walking with meerkats experience in the Moolmanshoek Private Game Reserve in the Free State.
Kanyoka has spent 5 years working with the meerkats here to habituate the 14 members of this colony to the point where they are comfortable around humans.
Meerkat tourism is an unusual wildlife experience because you can be 2 metres or less from these intriguing little creatures that have stolen the hearts of millions on TV series such as Meerkat Manor.
Kanyoka, who formerly worked with meerkats in the Northern Cape, has a way with them and understands their behaviour and their different sounds and calls. ‘Their social interaction is interesting because if a member of the colony is sick or the alpha female has had pups they bring them food and won’t move far from the burrow,’ explains Kanyoka, (adding that meerkats live up to 9 years, their gestation period is 75 days and they give birth to 2 to 5 pups).
To spend time with the meerkats, guests need to be in their territory by 6am in summer and by about 8am in winter as the meerkats emerge to sun themselves.
Kanyoka has habituated them not to be frightened of humans talking or laughing but he advises guests not to make any quick or jerky movements because if the meerkats sense danger they will make the alarm call and dart back into their burrows.
Moolmanshoek Game Reserve is situated in the Moolmanshoek Valley surrounded by the Witteberg Mountains that feed several mountain streams. It is rich in plains game, including springbok, zebra, black wildebeest, blesbok and ostrich and is home to 230 bird species. In addition to the meerkat experience and game viewing, hiking, horse trails, fishing and San (also known as Bushman) paintings are on offer.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Moolmanshoek Private Game Reserve
Isabel Arangies, marketing manager
Tel: +27 (0) 51 933 2220
Walk with meerkats guide, Shelton Kanyoka
Tel: +27 (0)76 026 2012