Following Meerkat Family


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To see a Meerkat family, a little dream came true. Arriving after a bumpy Cessna flight from South Africa in the Makgadikgadi Pan, a natural salt pan in Botswana. Next morning the adventure started to follow a Meerkat family on their foraging tour in the desert and, of course, to take Meerkat pictures.
We arrived early morning at their burrow and the first Meerkat had already a peak of the entrance. Who is coming? Well me, I want to see all the fun out in the wild and about with the little Meerkats. After a few minutes the curiosity of the Meerkat clan was big, the hunger probably too and they came all out of the burrow. It did not stop, one after the other, more and more. I should have counted, but didn’t. There were many Meerkats coming out and I started to wonder, how big is their underground home! This Meerkat group was large and all were running, jumping or searching for food around our legs. These little fellows are not that big, probably around 25-45cm tall when standing on their back legs scouting for predators.
After the whole Meerkat family has left the burrow, a little sun bath was taken, then the hunt begins, foraging for food. One adult animal was the outlook for predators and the other Meerkats searching for lizards, frogs or bugs. Sometimes I got a little bit buried in flying sand and dust while a Meerkat was digging in the ground for a bug and me on the ground just beside it. While on the ground I felt something on my legs, I fast checked what creature wants to bite me and I saw a Meerkat crawling along my leg, jumping off to grab that frog! Bon appetite! Oaky, that is fine with me, a Meerkat needs to eat. I went on taking pictures of a Meerkat digging in the ground. Than again I felt something, this time on my back wondering up to my head. Well, when the tail of this Meerkat on my head was in my way, I knew what it is: The Sentry Meerkat doing it’s duty – gazing the landscape for predators.
The Meerkat decided to use me as a watchtower for scanning the landscape. Every Meerkat clan has their sentries which they swop during the day the scouting shift for predators. So, this guard on my head has found it’s place and seemed quite comfortable on my head! If just that tail would have been a tad to the right or left! I did not touch the tail at all or the Meerkat, even if the Meerkat touched me! Hey… 😀
I went on with my job taking Meerkat images. Going on the ground, crawling in the sand over bushes and around about. This Meerkat guard on my head seemed to enjoy the free ride on a tower. Was fine with me as long it did not pee or bite. None of that happened as long this Meerkat or other Meerkat guards enjoyed the ride. After about 10min he left me while I was on the ground again, not to long and the next Meerkat Scout was on my shoulder. “Hello little chap, wanna a free ride too?”
We spent about 2-3 hours with the whole meerkat family, walking across the desert about 2-3km to another Meerkat underground castle. One after the other disappeared in to the burrow for a cooler spot. The last Meerkat had another look and gone and me again wondering that so many Meerkats have space in this underground Meerkat castle.
Anette Mossbacher
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