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Illegal trade kills meerkats

THE Kalahari meerkat population is dwindling due to human preda-
tion.

Local residents from Andriesvale in the Kalahari flood or dig tiny pups out of their burrows to sell to visitors for up to R1 000 each, despite the fact that most of the litter is killed during the capture of one or two of them.

Prof. Anne Rasa of the Kalahari Trails Meerkat Sanctuary and Nature Reserve made a desperate plea to the public on Monday (04/04) for the safety of these wild creatures.

“Please do not buy these babies and promote this illegal trade.

“Even if they look so cute and helpless, your purchase will only mean that even more meerkat families will be raided,” she said on her Facebook page.

“Remember, keeping a meerkat in captivity is cruel and against the law.”

Rasa said during the last three weeks, five little pups of about three to four weeks old arrived at the Kalahari Trails Meerkat Sanctuary and Nature Reserve.

They were all still far too young to be following the adult meerkats outside and had very likely been flooded or dug out of their burrows.

“They were all in a very poor condition.

“Four of them, which were confiscated by the authorities before their arrival here, were extremely ill.

“They would probably not have survived more than 48 hours had we not treated them,” Rasa said.

According to Rasa, they could determine from the pup’s colour and age that the four pups originated from at least two or three litters of different wild meerkat groups, but had been sold together.

“This loss to the population of wild meerkats, which are not very common in this area near the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, is not sustainable,” Rasa said.

“Local ‘entrepreneurs’ have discovered that visitors to the area are prepared to pay R1 000 for one of these pups.

“To dig up a burrow with pups in, or flood them out, does not take long.

“The meerkat pups are a lucrative source of income, even though this is completely against the law.

“The fact that at least half the litter are drowned or suffocated during the capture, is not important, just as long as one survives.”

If you are offered a meerkat pup for sale, please contact Rasa on 072-277-2377 or Jaco Reichert on 054-511-0900 or on 083-210-4316.

They will get in touch with the authorities to arrest the person concerned.

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