Meet Barkie, the baby aardvark

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.

baby-aardvark

© Andrew Bowden

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.

baby-rescued-aardvark

© Jack Somerville

aardvark-baby

© Jack Somerville

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.

rescued-baby-aardvark

© Andrew Bowden

aardvark

© Andrew Bowden

tiny-aardvark

© Jack Somerville

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.

rescued-aardvark

© Jack Somerville

rescue-aardvark

© Jack Somerville

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N/a’an ku sê

The award-winning N/a’an ku sê Foundation was started in 2006 to protect and improve the lives of the people and wildlife of Namibia. The mission of the N/a’an ku sê Foundation is to conserve the land, cultures and wildlife of Namibia and rescue species threatened by an ever-shrinking habitat. N/a’an ku sê means “God will protect us” in the beautiful clicking language of the San - a language which Marlice van Vuuren, the founder of the N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary, speaks fluently, having spent her life deeply involved with the San culture.

  • James

    In N/a’an ku se, they should know that wild animals are not pets. Readers should know that the walk aardwarks on a leash and they have a strange bussiness with baboons. It is unethical and very disgusting!

    N/a’an ku sê Foundation
    N/a’an ku sê Foundation

    • Nicola Massier-Dhillon

      My family is from Namibia and we’ve had close ties with Na’ankuse for many years (sister works there) and my husband is involved in their Bushman Clinic. It’s approach to animal care and rehabilitation is second to none. Animals that can be released back into the wild are (there’s a range of documentaries on their leopard, lion and cheetah release programme, and they have started Africa’s first wild dog rehabilitation – they’re hoping to release an entire pack back into the wild). Sadly, some orphaned or very injured animals aren’t considered suitable for release, and are kept at the sanctuary in large enclosures. They’re taken out into the bush once a day (the ‘walks’ you mention) to encourage them to develop natural behavior, and, where possible, they are integrated into semi-tame groups of the same animal to encourage natural group behavior. They also often provide valuable new insight into animal behaviour, particularly in the case of animals like Barkie, that are very shy and not well researched. Na’ankuse is not a zoo – it’s an extremely ambitious and ethical conservation initiative and one of the most successful and well-documented in Namibia. They have recently purchase another huge piece of land in Namibia’s semi-desert, where more animals will live in the wild and in peace. You also refer to baboons – I’ll clarify. There are 2 troops of orphans, all survivors of mothers being shot. Without Na’ankuse, they would have died. They are too injured, traumatized or simply accustomed to humans to be re-released, so they live as a troop in a huge enclosure and are taken for daily works with a dedicated team who see that they are developing normally, both physically and mentally. Please don’t criticize an organization you don’t understand – Africa’s animals need all the support they can get, and comments like yours drive vital funds away from where they are needed most.

    • Guest

      My family is from Namibia and we’ve had close ties with Na’ankuse for many years (sister works there) and my husband is involved in their Bushman Clinic. Its approach to animal care and rehabilitation is second to none. Animals that can be released back into the wild are (there’s a range of documentaries on their leopard, lion and cheetah release programmes, and they have started Africa’s first wild dog rehabilitation – they’re hoping to release an entire pack back into the wild). Sadly, some orphaned or very injured animals aren’t considered suitable for release, and are kept at the sanctuary in large enclosures. They’re taken out into the bush once a day (the ‘walks’ you mention) to encourage them to develop natural behavior, and, where possible, they are integrated into semi-tame groups of the same animal. They also often provide valuable new insight into animal behaviour, particularly in the case of animals like Barkie, that are very shy and not well researched. Na’ankuse is not a zoo – it’s an extremely ambitious and ethical conservation initiative and one of the most successful and well-documented in Namibia. They have recently purchase another huge piece of land in Namibia’s semi-desert, where more animals will live in the wild and in peace. You also refer to baboons – I’ll clarify. There are 2 troops of orphans, all survivors of mothers being shot. Without Na’ankuse, they would have died. They are too injured, traumatized or simply accustomed to humans to be re-released, so they live as a troop in a huge enclosure and are taken for daily works with a dedicated team who see that they are developing normally, both physically and mentally. Please don’t criticize an organization you don’t understand – Africa’s animals need all the support they can get, and comments like yours drive vital funds away from where they are needed most.

    • Nicola Massier-Dhillon

      My family is from Namibia and we’ve had close ties with Na’ankuse for many years (sister works there) and my husband is involved in their Bushman Clinic. It’s approach to animal care and rehabilitation is second to none. Animals that can be released back into the wild are (there’s a range of documentaries on their leopard, lion and cheetah release programme, and they have started Africa’s first wild dog rehabilitation – they’re hoping to release an entire pack back into the wild). Sadly, some orphaned or very injured animals aren’t considered suitable for release, and are kept at the sanctuary in large enclosures. They’re taken out into the bush once a day (the ‘walks’ you mention) to encourage them to develop natural behavior, and, where possible, they are integrated into semi-tame groups of the same animal to encourage natural group behavior. They also often provide valuable new insight into animal behaviour, particularly in the case of animals like Barkie, that are very shy and not well researched. Na’ankuse is not a zoo – it’s an extremely ambitious and ethical conservation initiative and one of the most successful and well-documented in Namibia. They have recently purchased another huge piece of land in Namibia’s semi-desert, where more animals will live in the wild and in peace. You also refer to baboons – I’ll clarify. There are 2 troops of orphans, all survivors of mothers being shot. Without Na’ankuse, they would have died. They are too injured, traumatized or simply accustomed to humans to be re-released, so they live as a troop in a huge enclosure and are taken for daily walks with a dedicated team who see that they are developing normally, both physically and mentally. Please don’t criticize an organization you don’t understand – Africa’s animals need all the support they can get, and comments like yours drive vital funds away from where they are needed most.

    • Nicola Massier-Dhillon

      On another note (see my main reply below), Na’ankuse attracts experts worldwide who do vital research into particular speces. They currently have a leading German zoologist who is specialized in wild dogs, and is overseeing the release of the wild dog pack. They have a considerably good international reputation as being responsible conservationists who also contribute to research. Their main focus: how to solve human/animal conflicts, so that fewer animals are shot and need to live in reserves. Please contact them and find out more before making unqualified remarks.

    • bibizyl

      You need to be more specific with your criticism and substantiate it.

    • Jennifer

      N/a’an ku se do not treat the animals as pets. Their primary goal is to get the animals back to the wild if possible and as soon as possible. He is walking freely and getting to be an ardvark. If they were not there, most of these animals would be dead. The animals that can be rehabilitated and set free, they keep human contact as minimal as possible. The baboons come as babies because of farmers shooting the mothers because baboons become nuisances to the farmers because they can be destructive. These baby baboons would have no chance to live without their mothers if it wasn’t for N/a’an ku se. I will be going there for my 4th time soon. I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t believe what they are doing was in the best interest of the animals. They do not allow breeding. Also, they employ the Sans Bushmen and give free schooling to the children of the workers and they provide free medical care to the Sans people all over Namibia. You have the wrong impression of N/a’an ku se. If there is anyone out there considering volunteering, please do not listen to “James” opinion!!

  • Annelie van Staden

    the most beautiful pictures ever Jack Somerville. Award winning photos. N/a’an ku sê, I salute you ! The earth need more humans like Marlice, Rudi and team.

  • Dr Who

    Beautiful story, beautiful creatures, land and cause!

  • davidbb

    wonderful
    i want to volunteer

  • michael chait

    Mense is eish-eina.

  • Sharyn Holmes

    What a beautiful fellow! These photos are absolutely amazing!

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