Meerkat rehabilitation, Eastern Cape
Did you know?
Meerkats consider scorpions especially delicious, and quickly learn to disarm the sting.
Hester Steynberg of the Ganora Guest Farm near Nieu Bethesda in the Karoo had no idea she had a knack for meerkat rehabilitation until she was asked to nurse an injured one back to life in 1990.
People around the town and Graaff-Reinet got to hear that Hester was something of a meerkat whisperer. And then a gentle trickle of these charming suricates began to arrive on her doorstep.
Many had been ‘kidnapped’ as babies to be pets. But endearing as they undoubtedly are, meerkats are not really good candidates for a life only with humans.
They need the company of their own kind, and when they hit puberty, they often start biting their human minders or visitors. A meerkat’s very particular diet means it can suffer easily from dehydration.
Hester rehabilitates these ‘pets’, orphans and injured meerkats, feeding them while teaching them how to hunt for juicy grubs and beetles that are their normal diet.
One of Hester’s dogs even became a foster meerkat mom of an orphaned baby meerkat. That same meerkat, once it had grown up, became the matriarch of a large suricate tribe that is still thriving in the veld on Ganora farm.
Hester is so trusted by the meerkats that they sometimes delegate her as sentry, or use her shoulder as a lookout point.
Once she has enough wilded meerkats that have bonded to form a cohesive colony, she releases them to a safe place on the farm.
Ganora Guest Farm is probably better known for its extraordinary fossils and its tranquility than as a meerkat animal sanctuary. But there are often a few around and if you’re lucky, you may get fairly close to meerkats that used to be pets and so are used to humans. Wild meerkats in training, that is.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Ganora Guest Farm
JP and Hester Steynberg
Tel: +27 (0) 49 841 1302
Cell: +27 (0) 82 698 0029