Is the iconic Disney earworm already playing in your head? While Timon and Pumba made the Lion King the can’t-miss childhood movie of all time, did you know that the meerkat isn’t just a small, fuzzy creature with a lazy attitude? They’re a linchpin of the Kalahari ecosystem, and without them, vast ecological repercussions would be inevitable.

Are meerkats actually important?

Despite their fuzzy looks, meerkats are fairly savage creatures with fierce territorial instinct. They’re one of the few mammals that can thrive happily in the semi-arid landscape of the Karoo. Desert and semi-desert are very hard niches for life to occupy. There’s little comfort, and food and water are regularly scarce. This means any animal, even our little meerkats, is a critical part of the local ecosystem.

Meerkat

What do they contribute?

What does that really mean, however? In arid conditions, bugs flourish in a way mammals can’t under the harsh environment. Luckily, nature gave us the meerkat, a tiny-but-fierce little predator who keeps the bugs and invertebrates under control and prevents overpopulation. This has always been a critical part of Mother Nature’s plans, but never more so than since humans brought farming and human activity to the area.

They’re also a key part of the predator and prey cycle for the Karoo. Without these little mammals, many of the larger predators you love here at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge could not flourish.

Meerkat

Beyond the obvious

There’s one more, less obvious way in which the meerkat helps the Karoo thrive. Because they are a tunnelling and burrowing species, they help enrich the soil and aerate the harsh sands of the Karoo. It’s a key, if often unconsidered, way in which they help this difficult ecosystem thrive.

Remember, it’s not the size that counts! The meerkat may be a teeny, tiny part of the natural ecosystem, but it’s a critical one never-the-less. Without them, the entirety of the Karoo could be in great difficulty.

Keen to learn more about these fascinating little critters? Why not embrace the spirit of a true African Game Lodge, and add one of our Meerkat Adventures to your time at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge? They’re suitable for the whole family, and you’re sure to love the fascinating facts you discover!