Meet the Meerkats:
I kept really still lounging nonchalantly on an unassuming-looking mound in the middle of nowhere in the Makgadikgadi Pans. I was thinking ‘Please like me, please like me’ as a few small noses poked out of the underground den. The meerkats seemed untroubled by my rather large presence at their front door, and if I’d made some big social faux-pas, it seems they forgave me. They chose instead to make use of my size and climb onto the highest point to gain a wonderful vantage point over the flatlands they call home.
So there I was in a salt pan in Botswana with a meerkat on my head. Now how often can you say that?
These gorgeous creatures have been habituated by scientists not to fear humans (as long as you don’t make any sudden moves), and whilst you can’t touch them, they can do as they like to you. Happily, what they like is simply to use you as predator lookout post as there isn’t much high ground in the salt pans.
Our small group of meerkat-besotted visitors (if you aren’t now, you will be afterwards) took turns in positioning ourselves by the den to be used and abused as a look-out post. And we loved it! They look you in the eye, they lean up against you, stand on you, scamper over you … I could have watched them all day. Sadly, life is tough out here in the Makgadikgadi and the mob (yes really, it’s a mob of meerkats) soon need to get on with their day and head off to look for food.
So after about 50 minutes, we watched as they ran off, tails in the air, in the certain knowledge that we’d just had one of the best wildlife experiences ever.
Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana
The meerkats live here all year, but it’s harder to see them in the wet season so from around April-October/November is the easier time to see them. You can catch them early morning before they forage, and sometimes late afternoon on their return.