Meet Barkie, an aardvark baby brought to the N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary in late February 2014. Barkie found protection and love in the doting hands of the N/a’an ku sê team.
The tiny aardvark, estimated to be no older than three months, arrived on our bushveldt doorstep after his mother had been shot by a farmer. Tragically this is a common occurrence in Namibia, where farmers and landowners heavily depend on their livestock to eke a living out of this desert land. The natural burrowing and digging behaviour of aardvark, inadvertently causes holes in fences that allow the livestock to escape, making them vulnerable to free-roaming carnivores.
Sadly, aardvarks have gained an increasingly negative reputation – a reputation wholly misunderstood. Barkie’s mother herself suffered this fate, with her helpless baby thankfully being taken pity on and laid in the protecting hands of N/a’an ku sê.
Barkie became an overnight sensation, his small pink body, devoid of hair, clothed lovingly in pyjamas for the icy winter nights. Feeding pre-dominantly on termites and ground dwelling insects, Barkie is joined by a group of volunteers on his daily bush walks. This gives him the chance to fully embrace his natural aardvark instincts, as at N/a’an ku sê we carefully consider the natural needs of every orphan, tending away from the feeling of “captivity”. Instead we create an environment where their instinctive behaviours are nurtured and encouraged.
And Barkie has given us insight into the aardvark world – a world that we have barely scratched the surface of. The behaviour of these elusive creatures has remained largely undiscovered – but with Barkie’s help we hope to erase the misunderstood reputation of these magnificent mammals.