Friday, July 30, 2010

Fare well Cindi

I haven't seen her in 10 day's, so i amuse she has left with the boyfriend. May she have a long, safe life with a lot of children.
Tourist season is very quiet, and then you get those people who phone you for half an hour, book a tour and then just don't have the decency to pitch up or phone you when they can't make it.
Looks like today is my day for complaints.
The meerkats did not come to the main burrows for a couple of day's, very strange when there is no signs of predator activity or strange meerkats and then i find it a spot were someone has urinated right at the main barrows.
You see i very seldom look back when we start walking with the meerkats because they can vanish into the shrubs so quickly, so i must have missed it when someone stayed behind to relieve themselves.
That cent of human urine will stay there for a while and being the cent of a predator it will scare the meerkats away.
I don't mind people releaving themselves in the bush, but not right on top of my burrows.

Monday, July 26, 2010

So i haven't seen Cindi since Friday. Th assume the boyfriend came back for her.
O the confusion in the morning, no one knows who is supposed to do first watch. One of the musketeers and two baby's come out at the same time and sit there very confused, looking very lost.
I'm sure they will sort it out very soon.
A new thing in the Oudtshoorn sky's is a skydiving plane that is very disturbing to the meerkats, you see it take a while for them to get use to these strange birds in the sky. Even when the airport is 10 km away they can still see every plane and parachute.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sentry for an orphan

So summer is here temperature's in the 20's and beautiful days. Yesterday afternoon like everyday i went to the meerkats to see where they were sleeping. And there was Cindi fifty meters away, desperately begging to be let back into the family, but no chance, they just won't budge.
I think it has got a lot to do with confusion as well as misunderstanding.
You see, meerkats do not recognize one another by looking at faces and body shapes, but rely more on imprinting on the tail and smell. So when Cindi decided to follow a boyfriend for a couple of day's she is now seen as a stranger by the family, firstly because she approach them in a very submissive way with her tail low down so they don't really get the chance to see her tail so as to recognize her, so instinctively they come forward to greet her very aggressively which makes her run away and they don't get the chance to see that its Cindi. Secondly she now smells of a different male and that also make them aggressive to her.
She is now sleeping alone in one of the other burrows in the area, you see, the family has driven the strange male out of the area and he has not returned for Cindi. And Cindi wont leave their territory on her own, so she is now orphaned .
So yesterday i spend a couple of hours walking with her and playing sentry for her so that she could get some peaceful foraging time.
Today there were no sign of her, so i hope she is alright. We will just have to see what happens the next couple of day.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The prodigal daughter shows herself

Beautiful morning, not a single cloud in the sky.
Took out some crazy Irish people, made me stand like a meerkat to take pictures( They didnt know there were real meerkats!!!!!). I will show the pictures when i get them, they said they will send me one.
Well everything went great all 11 remaining meerkats came out and the tour were going great, till all of a sudden all the tails went up in a challenge. As i look in the direction they were staring there were a meerkat about fifty meters behind me, and guess who , "Cindi" and she was just as exited to see us, she came running up to us till she was about 3 meters behind our chairs. But meerkat life isn't that simple.
When you leave your family for 5 day's like Cindi did, it is just not that simple, you are seen as a intruder, deserter and enemy, especially if you have a boyfriend in tow.
The whole family came charging at her and my hart broke as she turned around, and tail between her legs she had to run for her life. You see; meerkats do not allow deserters to return when they are pregnant and smelling like other males.
They then turned their attention on the foreign male and chased him out of their area.
What an exiting morning, at least i know Cindi is still alive. It is bad losing an animal, but if you know it's alive it makes it bearable.

The saga continue's.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Nature is a very tough place

After spending the whole sunday morning at church and at home having a nice family barbecue i again arrived to late to see all the meerkats i only saw 8 of them, so still no sight of Cindi but hoping she was there i went back home.
This morning i got there and like normal the meerkats slept late and we waited till about 08H30 for them to wake up. My hopes were up when i saw the first meerkats face, witch looked like Cindi, but i soon realized it was on of the 3 masketeers when she emerged completely, and i lost more hope as more meerkats emerged and still no Cindi. She has always been the first one up and she would usually fine comb the whole area for about 15 min before any one else would wake up, so she was quit a prominent figure in my life. She was also The only other mature female in the group that could help Liefie to feed the baby's. Now, with Liefie pregnant again, i don't know who is going to help when the new baby's arrive, we just hope Molly is mature enough.
The circle of life proceeds. I think God just reminded me this morning that i'm not here to intervene in nature but only to observe, because only when we take these animals out of nature can we interfere in their lives, but in nature we have to let nature take it's cause.
If animals don't die or leave their herds or family groups, their numbers would soon be more than what nature can produce food for them.
I am still not sure if she is dead or that she hasn't just took of after a boyfriend and is most likely starting her own family somewhere. I will definitely do more investigation and keep you guy's up to date.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Seperation anxiety

The morning was extra crisp, with snow on the mountains and clear blue sky's except for a long thin misty cloud to the east over the Swartberg mountains. I reached the the burrows precisely as the sun raised his bald head over the horizon (can you hear the harmonica playing the good the bad and the ugly in the background) and guess who is waiting for me at burrows, "Cindy" and it is freezing to say the least. Normally she would only wake up about an hour after sunrise. She directly had me worried, either she was sick or she went to sleep to early last night or maybe she had a boyfriend but something was wrong because she seamed a bit restless. She was only out for two or three minutes before she took off to the other side of the burrows and then of on her own as if to go and forage, not waiting for the rest of the family to wake up. She settled on an earth mount about a hundred meters away and for an hour just sat there staring into the distance. By then i knew something must have happened last night because the rest of the family did not spend the night with Cindi at the main barrows, but three hundred meters away in the northern most burrows of the territory. For some unexplained reason they got separated last night and spend the night in separate burrows. the memory of losing one of my meerkat's only two weeks ago are still fresh so I spend the rest of the morning walking up and down their territory but could not find Cindi again, I eventually decided to call it a day and to let nature take it's cause and come back later in the day to see if she has found her way back to the family. Because of other responsibility's i only got to the burrows as the sun was setting and only got a glimpse of two or three meerkats as they were entering the burrows for night, unfortunately not in time to see if Cindi have rejoined the group. We will have to wait till tomorrow to see if she has made it back.

Monday, July 12, 2010

What does these three things have in common. One word "Oudtshoorn"
Oudtshoorn is the only place in South Africa, or the world where you will be in the desert,watching meerkats and snow at the same time. It doesn't seem right but it does make a pretty picture especially if you ad a nice looking young lady in the picture.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Again the weather man was wrooooong!!!!!!! he predicted rain for this morning and there were only two clouds in the sky, and i could only see one of them, the other one was in durban. An absolutely beautiful morning.
The meerkats were up and ready for breakfast by 8H00, they even had their hair combed.
They all seem to to be over the loss of their gang member, for i noticed for the first couple of days after it dissipeared they all seamed to hesitate around the burrows every morning as if they were waiting for her to join them. but this morning the all just left to go and forage without hesitation.
Ok, ok ! So i lied about the clouds a little, but there couldn't have been more than three.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Well, and then life go's on. One learn when working with animals that sometimes, most times you out live your animals and sometimes they die long before their time. But never does it get any easier. So losing one of the baby meerkat's was tough but their is still 12 others and i assume i will lose some more in the future. Nature is not for sissies, it is a tough world to live in.