THE SHY 5: Captive meerkats should never be released!
Submitted on Sunday, December 19 @ 19:53:50 UTC by Grant Join the Wild and Free Meerkat / Suricate Conservation Cause with The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project and make a real difference to conservation of them and their natural habitat.
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The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project only works with Wild and Free meerkat / suricate populations that occur naturally in our styd areas in The Meerkat Magic Valley around Oudtshoorn Western Cape South Africa.
There is always a reason for "small game" like this not being in an area, and we do not believe in
introducing them to areas where they do not occur (or even where they do occur...), because, unlike other larger game species that are easy to establish and that may have been hunted
out in an area...
If wild meerkats are not present in a specific area it is not because they have been
removed, but because they are not adapted to that area. And if they are present the area is already saturated with meerkat territories and should not be disturbed, by adding meerkats to the area!
According to distribution maps there have never been meerkats in certain areas, this does not mean they should be artifically introduced.
As a wildlife research biologist and nature conservationist. Grant M. Mc Ilrath also worked with the University of Stellenbosh near their Witsand/
Heidelberg properties for a few years on the yellow mongoose- they occur in
groups along the coastline and occupy the niche of meerkats which is
probably why there are no meerkats there.
Meerkats are very very fussy about where they live and the soil structure/ geology affects their burrow structure. Small grey mongoose often occur in rocky areas, but not the meerkats. They prefer open valley areas with little
rainfall and stable soil.
Basically, if no meerkats occur naturally in an area, to introduce them would be unethical. Other animals most probably occupy their specific niche as it is. And if meerkats already occur in the area, there is no reason to interfere with their natural self regulatory population cycles, by introducing more to the area!
The wild meerkats have incredibly complex social structures and specific group scents, very similar to the endangered species of co- operative breeding mammal, the wild dog (Lycaon pictus).
Over the last eleven years of studying wild meerkat populations it has been
shown that in high predation areas, meerkat groups of five or less do not survive, as their are not enough meerkats to look out for danger, feed
themselves and feed their young.
To attempt introducing meerkats to an area would mean large numbers of meerkats together, and they do not simply "bond"- they have complex
hierarchies. Other animals would be affected by the meerkats arrival, and the natural balance would be disturbed.
The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project strongly recommends that you do not introduce meerkats or remove meerkats into or from nature. Furthermore it is unethical to support the illegal selling and buying of meerkats which are caught from wild populations.
Currently The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project is investigating a meerkat pet smuggling ring in Gauteng. There are very large fines for anybody who buys or captures meerkats in South Africa, or has them in their possesion! Any meerkats kept in captivity without legal permits, will result in fines and even jail sentences for those disobeying regulations.
Sadly when meerkats are "let go" by the owners, the meerkats are killed by other meerkats in the area because they smell like rival meerkat
groups, or are killed by predators which they do not recognise as dangerous
Captive meerkats should NEVER be released. Also to release meerkats into the wild may introduce viruses or disease pathogens into natural healthy
populations and cause a ripple effect. If no meerkats occur in the area, there is always a reason for that, and it is strongly recommend that if you truly are passionate about meerkats and nature that you do not disturb the current balance of small game.
Unlike large game on properties, small game is self regulating and moves freely between properties, through or under fences. They should not be introduced to or removed from an area.
The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project sincerely hopes that this information helps better your understanding of meerkat distribution and the legalities of meerkats in captivity. To read another important article about captive meerkats press here.
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