Living with Love not Fear

Peace of Eden series – article 8

I’d like to tell you about a wild meerkat called Mazuri, which means ‘good’ in Swahili. She is an adult female in the Ungulungu group, the world-famous wild meerkats, who live in Oudtshoorn’s own Meerkat Magic Valley, just off the R62.

Each species, including our own human species, have different ways of reproducing and surviving. Breeding in the meerkat species can be quite complicated. There is an Alpha male and female in the group, who like the Wild Dogs, under normal circumstances, bond for life, and are the only breeding pair. I think that is also the ideal for the human species as well, but human relationships have become increasingly difficult to maintain and we have such high expectations of each other. I will say a little more about that next time when I talk more about the Wild Dogs, but…back to meerkat breeding processes as a background to what I would like to tell you about Mazuri!

When the Alpha female falls pregnant, as a way of making sure only her pups are born, she quite viscously evicts the other adult females in the group for a period of time. About 2 or 3 weeks. There are a lot more breeding details Grant, the Meerkat Man, could more eloquently convey to you on one of his Sunset or Sunrise wild meerkat Tours. Mazuri, together with Jabulani, is one of the female adults who gets evicted on these occasions. As a result they lose out on several weeks of habituation time with Grant.

What is habituation anyway? It is the self-taught, ethical techniques Grant spent years learning from wild meerkats in the Kalahari desert. These techniques based on his understanding of how meerkats communicate, earned him the trust of meerkats who remain wild, they are not tamed or fed. Privileged visitors to the Ungulungu group can thus time-travel through the many patient, persevering hours Grant has spent earning the trust of these cute, cuddly, comical creatures, to have a ringside seat only meters from the burrow where they early-morning emerge to sun themselves.

As Mazuri has had fewer habituation hours with the Meerkat Man, at this point in time, she has less trust and tolerance to the presence of guests. Although Grant reassures her and she carefully observes the trust the other meerkats have in him, I can still see her going through this difficult decision-making process: to move as close to the adoring, inspired, observing guests as the others are, or not. To live experiencing love and admiring affirmation or caution.

She reminded me of myself, the times I have lived with fears and insecurities and missed out on living life to the full! The times I didn’t put my hand up in class, when I knew the answer, afraid of making a fool of myself, instead of enjoying the affirmation of the teacher and a feeling of knowing; or while swimming with the dolphins – fearing the waves and missing out on more dolphin delights! Recently I have been sitting-on-the-fence, keeping my life in Cape Town going at the same time as my life in Oudtshoorn, calling it a period of transition, but really finding it scary to face the changes ahead, instead of lovingly embracing all I desire for the future.

Each day we can chose to live with love or fear