Sunday, November 27, 2011

At last the wait is over



Born on 1st of November they eventually showed their faces for the first time today, five new baby's and they look strong and healthy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

First hot summers day



So what do you do when it is 40° in the shade and you are a meerkat in the Karroo?
You find some shade under a tree, scratch the hot topsoil away and lie down flat on your tummy to cool down.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

??????????????

So Boeta is still with the family, no sign that he has any plans to leave soon. The young female that left after he came back also returned to the family.
I do not take kids younger than 10 years on my tours, just because it is cruel to the child to sit still for that long.
So when someone asked very nicely, i decided to take them with me when i do my afternoon trip to the meerkats. I do not take people with me in the afternoons because the sightings are not guaranteed. But these people asked nicely so there we go. Got to the burrows just after 18H00 with still 1 ½ hours sun left, but no sign of the meerkats, i even canceled my tour for the next morning. Next morming i'm there and found them at the main burrows, so i let the people know to meet me again the afternoon and again no meerkats. This time i did not cancel my morning tour and there they were. So the third afternoon i went to find them and 17H45 they were at the burrows but only went to bed when the sun went down. Only the 4th afternoon did i find the reason, I went to the burrows at 16H00 and staked out from a distance with my binoculars and then i saw the culprit, a yellow mongoose attached the baby sitters, who then gave alarm the whole family came to the rescue and to protect the baby's the whole family stayed with them for the remainder of the afternoon, so that was why we did not see the meerkats at the burrows ore anywhere in the territory the first two times.

Friday, October 28, 2011

It is Time








Well just when you think you have things sorted and you know how their heads work they bowl you out, No i'm not talking about woman but meerkats.
When Boeta came back last week the young meerkat female that has just reached maturity end of August, got confused because of the young hunk who joined the family. It activated her hormones and she was kicked out of the family.
Well except for being a bit confused by the comings and goings of old family members it was a rather uneventful week.
My predicted birth date fore the new baby's were out by two day's, so in stead of the 30 th of October it was the 1 st of November.
Yesterday the tour went quiet uneventful till the two youngsters who were supposed to do babysitting duty, thought they can get away with leaving me and the guests to do baby sitting duty.
I was just bragging about what good baby sitters meerkats are when all of them left to go and forage. A bit confused, i lead my group of guests to follow the family to see whats going to happen next.
Without warning two very upset young meerkats charged down on me and the very surprised guests and the one stopped about 6 inches from my feet and with the attitude of a 7 feet meerkat, let go with a string of verbal abuse that i cannot word for word repeat on a public blog, told me what a bad and undisciplined babysitter i am to leave new born baby's unattended. And what a bad example i set in front of guests. I reluctantly bowed my head in shame and asked my guests to politely step out of the path and let them past to go and do what i have failed in so miserably. I was on the point of giving them a peace of my mind and tell them that i will not be discriminated against just because i am a human, but kept my mouth shut when the rest of the family came running down the path to come and see what the racket was about. So me and the guests made our way back to our vehicle's before i got into more trouble.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I have no clue





First off, on the 5th of Ocktober 2 young lady's who stayed at La plume near Oudtshoorn came on the tour with me. I forgot to get their e-mail address. So if it was you please send me a message so that i can send you your photo's. On this same morning we found a steenbok on the main road that was hit by a car, it had concussion. The Vet gave it some antibiotic's and pain killers and he is recovering very fast.
Liefie is progressing very well in her pregnancy and is getting bigger every day.
Two days ago something happened that i cannot understand. Now you know that when a young male reach sexual maturity, they are kicked out to go and find a female and start their own family. And you remember the young male Boeta that left about a month or so back. Well i was at the site the day before yesterday when i noticed a strange meerkat about 200 meters away and i braced myself for a battle when this intruder started coming closer.
But no one raised the alarm they just let him keep coming closer, and with me standing between the intruder and the family, i thought he would at least shy away, so i stood my ground and watched as he just walked past me at about 2 meters away as if he owned some property there.
He walked up to the family and they came running up to him with their tails up and started grooming him as if he is the prodigal son.
Has he learned some of Molly's tricks or is his cent so close to his father's that the rest of them does not smell the difference.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

They have done it again


On the 26th of September i went out to the meerkats like every other afternoon to find the meerkats and see where they will sleep. Usually the are at the burrows at aprox 15 min before the sun go's down, but not that day. Now when i don't find them in that time i have to look at all the burrows in the burrowing area before it get's to dark. The burrowing area is about 25 hectare 's big, that gives you a circumference of roughly 3 km, and that night i walked around the burrowing area 4 time's to make sure i do not miss them somewhere at one of the secondary burrows.
Halfway through my 5th lap of the area, in almost total darkness i found Molly looking very lost and sitting at the main burrows.
I assumed that they were trapped somewhere and only made it home very late, and i thought that Molly were the last one to go down into the burrows. So i went home.
The next morning i arrived at the borrows with 4 guests in tow. And there in the ray's of the morning sun was the silhouette of Molly looking out for the rest of her family. That gave away that she was home alone, because she never got up before the other meerkat's.
So for the second time this year the family has vanished or went on holiday, sleeping at their holiday home and i don't have a clue where that is.
So against my principal of putting radio collard on my meerkats i have decided to now buy a radio collar. So if anyone knows where to buy radio collars and equipment i might be in the market.
That afternoon i went and tried to find them. i even followed Molly on a couple of wild goose chases but no success. On our last fruitless walkabout to no where madam Molly started developing some urgency to get back to the main burrows and lo and behold there their were.
Liefie's second pregnancy for this season in developing nicely and it should happen arround the end of ocktober, if my calculations are correct.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

No baby's


It is official, none of the baby's born on 16 august survived.
Meerkat baby's are born blind and naked. They then spend 3 to 4 weeks underground while the grow fur, develop eye sight and developing their motorized skills. At aprox 4 weeks they are strong enough to follow their siblings to the surface. They then spend the next couple of day's around the burrows just fine tuning their movement and running skill's.
So if the 16th of August was the day they were born, Then the 13th of September would be 4 weeks from then and the family has now moved 300m away to another burrow I think we can safely say the baby's did not make it.
Now if things work out like they should and Liefie (dominant female) has conceived shortly after the birth of the baby's, the next baby's should be born on ± 30 October.
The count down is on.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

She's back!!!!!!.......Again.



What did i tell you yesterday, she has done it before and she will do it again. Molly was gone for 3 day's and this morning she is back as if she has never been gone. But so were one of the girls from August last year and she hasn't returned yet. No sign of any baby's yet and today is week 4. Will have to wait and see

Monday, September 12, 2011

Spring




After all the beautiful rain we had this year our semi-desert Karroo landscape has turned into a flowering wonderland. I had a couple of flower power children (Golden oldy's) from Cambridge university on tour the other day, and the meerkats started feeling neglected, the way the people were giving more attention to the flowers.
No sign of the baby's yet. They usually make their appearance between 3 -4 weeks, and tomorrow it will be 4 weeks precisely. And with previous baby's they always left baby sitters the whole time, but this time there was only babysitters the first week, but since then no babysitters. I haven't seen Molly and one of the November 10, baby,s for 3 days now. I don't have a clue where they are but i'm not holding my breath yet as molly had done this to me before and then just arrive back home one day. I will check in the moment i have any news.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Normality


Every thing seem to have returned back to normal in Meerkatville after the chaos of last month. After Liefie had her baby's the whole family settled down and life just returned to normal. Only 9 of the original bunch remained. We have Liefie (dominant female), Moner (dominant male), Molly (oldest gaughter, born sometime middle 2009), Boeta (young male, born 25 January 2010), 1male,1female born 25 Aug 2010, 1 male, 1 female born 10 Nov 2010. And 1 male born 30 January 2011 .

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Antisipation



Got to the meerkat burrows yesterday. It was at least 3° cel, Better than the previous day's -3°
The meerkats started coming out and as they did, i started taking stock of the meerkats that i have left after the last couple of weeks of chaos. I realised i have only got 3 females left, the rest are all males. Well there is one that i am not sure of.
Males
Moner( dominant male). Boeta (oldest son who will reach sexual maturity very soon. born 25th Jan 2010 ). One male, born 25th August 2010. One male born November 10 /2010. and one male, born 30 January2011.
Females
Liefie (Dominant Female). Molly the rebel (Oldest daughter, born August 2010). One Female born 25 August 2010. And one meerkat that i'm not sure of it's sex yet.
The reason why i started counting was, that Liefie did not come out of the burrows, and Molly and the other young female kept going back down. This odd behavior usually means that Liefie is having baby's.
The male's eventually left to go and forage leaving the girls to tend to the maternity ward.
So to every one that i have told that Liefie still have about two weeks left, i am sorry i misjudged myself with the thick winter fur on her body.
And you all will have to wait till i have more news. (3-4 weeks)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Confusion


Must have been the most confusing couple of day's of my life.
First the younger females started leaving the family, then Molly left and then came back.
then the whole family disappeared and molly came back full of blood. Then molly took on some of the outcasted females and a wild male. Then the whole family reappeared and Molly joined them again. Then molly left again and 3 day's later she came back, then Nicky left and joined the other outcasts on the edge of the territory. This morning Nicky was back sleeping in the same burrow system but in a side hole, but sneaked away before the others really woke up.
I feel like M&M's or smarties in a tumble dryer. This will teach me to go and get involved with a female orientated group of animals. I think i should have stuck with my horses.
But tomorrow's another day with another episode of the Meerkat ville soapy.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

‎"Have faith in God." - spoken by Jesus in Mark 11:22


I cannot explain this, I do not know where they went for 2 day's, but they are back. After two day's of stressing, Finding only Molly full of blood, not knowing where to start looking, and also how do i do tours without meerkats. I woke up this morning with one of two choices, I can find a new group of meerkats habituate them and in a couple of months i can do tours again. Or i can put my faith in God and trust in his promise. Matthew 6:34
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
So i resided on God and to take whatever comes my way.
And when i got to the meerkat site this afternoon all 13 meerkats were there, not a scrach on them, as if they have never been gone. Molly has even rejoined the family, no sign of her two companions.
Hopefully The male has taken Tinkie and went of to start their own family somewhere.
Would love to know where they were, but i wonder if we would ever know.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New! everything is new.

It is amazing how life can be so smooth on morning when you wake up and 7 hours later it is upside down.
So Last night just Molly and a 1 year old meerkat called Tinky. I came home hoping to find them all at the burrows this morning, but no joy. Molly took me on a" wild meerkat chase" the whole morning. She would stop every couple of minutes and send out distress calls. She can move for a wounded meerkat. At a stage she had me running to keep up. and then she just stopped, and sat watching me. Left her there and went walking ±15 km and only saw two wild meerkat in the distance. Just went home for a couple of hours to eat lunch. When i got back to meerkat ville There were still no sign of the rest of the family, but a whole new development took place. Molly has kind of realized the rest of the family is not coming home, so she has taken over the territory and brought home a new man. So when i left tonight we had a new dominant female and a new dominant male. Only problem is i am sitting with the same problem as i had with Moner who also joined the Family un habituated. And now i will have to do tours withe only 3 meerkats, at least for the next 75 days, till Molly give us some new baby's

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chaos in Meerkatville




This is scary. Went to Meerkat ville this afternoon, Camera, recording device all ready for action. I found Molly sitting all by her self at the burrows. I gave her a scolding for leaving her family again after the beating she got 2 days ago. I then just sat with her and took some photos of a steenbok walking past us at about 30 meters. when i look back at molly there was another meerkat with her and molly was standing facing me and she had blood all over her hip.
There were no sign of any of the other meerkats. I went to all the other burrows in our territory without luck.
A hundred questions are going through my mind.
What attacked them ???
Where are they????
Are more of them hurt???
Darkness caught me and i will have to look for them tomorrow morning.
I will fill you guys in on news tomorrow.

Clever Molly


So first it was one of the younger daughters that got casted out and are now living on her own in one of the other burrows in the territory. She is still coping and every now and then she moves in closer to the family, but they are still very hostile to her.
Then the day before yesterday (Sunday 31 July) it was molly's turn. This is really weird, because because usually a male meerkat from a neighboring group would come and lour a female away, mate with her and then they would go and start their own family. But twice no our females got sent marked by a male and got abandoned by the male only to got outcasted by the family as well.
Luckely Molly is a clever and world wise Meerkat and after a big beating by the family she managed to get some sent on her and they let her stay. She is now back in the family and is slowly working her way up the ranks back to a respectable position in the family.
video

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The outcast




I go there the whole 75 day gestation period. I'm there the morning they are born, i waited for four weeks for them to emerge from the burrows for the first time and i'm there every afternoon to see if all of them come back from foraging for the day. I am sometimes there to see a predator take one of my baby,s, i stand by helplessly when a cobra is down in the burrows killing a whole generation of baby's. Yes it is a cruel world where i can get attached but i cannot interfere.
This week one of the girls are going through one of the toughest experiences and there is nothing i can do about it.
She was born 25th January 2010, one of five girls and one boy, a larger than normal batch of baby's. Normally there is between 3 to 5 baby's.
All six survived well for 6 months when the first girl were taken by a predator. I was not there so i did not know what happen, but she did not make it back home that night.
Three weeks ago a strange male came through the area and two days later one of the girls followed him and is now starting a new family somewhere.
It is tough but i know she has a companion and she is not alone.
But Wednesday afternoon when i got there for my afternoon watch i saw one of the girls standing alone far up the slope to the west of the territory, witch was not unusual because there is always someone on guard but usually the swap guard duty within an hour. But she was just standing there watching the rest of the family the whole afternoon. At sun down when everyone was at the burrows she came down to join them, but obviously she has met a young male somewhere trough the day and there was some strange smells on her.
Moner (the dominant male and her father) Started attacking her very viciously and started biting her and cent marking her. The whole family turned on her and she were forts to flee for her life.
She has been sleeping on her own for the last three nights, But i am watching her and hoping she would rejoin the family the moment the sent from the strange male has faded.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Beautiful days




The day are getting beautiful. Meerkats are getting up earlier. Had a vissit from a steenbok this morning. It is still cold but it is great.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Come summer come


Season is changing, it is getting warmer again, more tours, in general things are just looking better.
We can still get some very cold weather in the next couple of months, but the season has turned and me and the meerkats like that.
A pare of jackal and their cubs are in the area and the meerkats keep on running into them. Saw the female this morning but the bushes around her were to high to see the cub's but i found the footprints of two cubs.
Otherwise it is very quiet in meerkatville.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cold meerkats


It is CCCCooooolllldddd, i am freezing my butt of, and to crown it all im having either equine flue or swine flue or bird flue, i can only tell you guys it is not fun. but i'm sure i will live. Even flue has it's pride and won't stay around to long.
The meerkats are all healthy and if i'm not mistaken Liefie is either overeating or she and Moner might have been naughty. You will unfortunately have to wait till i can get better photographic proof.
The Swartberg mountains are covered in snow and we still get these misty mornings.
But all is well in our little meerkat valley.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Down to 14

At first i thought it was Nikki the second oldest daughter that has gone and find herself a man. But no it is one of the girls from the pasella 6 that was born last year January and became the pasella 5 6 months later when one of them got caught by a predator. They have in the meantime reached sexual maturity so now one of them has gone after one of the bachelor males that has moved through the valley. So now they are down to the pasella 4.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

a Kiss for prince charming


The weather? very peculiar!! It must be the coldest wettest winter in a long time, I'm asking again, where is global warming. If scientists can lie about that what else do they lie about.
Had a very wonderful experience yesterday afternoon. I went out to see where the meerkats would sleep and with the weather so cold and windy i found a spot against one of the burrows and i layed down in the sun and i waited for the meerkats to finish foraging. Enjoying the late afternoon sun i closed my eyes and just enjoyed the warm ray's, when after a while i felt a soft kiss, first on my head and then on my cheek. I slowly took my phone out of my pocket and pointed it at myself where i'm laying and took a picture, what a surprise.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I stand amazed



It is still possible that parents can control their children.
It has happened once where i took out a child under the age of 10 and he behaved like a star, he was well educated on nature and how to respect nature, but i have to add his dad is a big nature man and bird watcher.
Now these two that i took out yesterday were two very well behaved young men all the way from India. And i have to give credit to the parents, they did not once had to say anything to make the boy's behave, it just happened. There is the possibility that they were just frozen stiff from the cold.
Now don't get me wrong i have had some good kids on the tours but these two were great.
For living in an era of strict children and obedient parents these kids were stars.
It seems like one of our young female meerkats that has recently reached maturity has left the nest. As you know Kansa valley has currently got a couple of young males on the move, looking for partners, So i assume it is a case of boy meets girl girl leaves home. But if i get any more info i will let you know.
When meerkat can't see what's over the rise one of them would usually get on a heap of sand or a shrub to see further, but sometimes they would clime to the top of a tree to see better, and yesterday i had the privileged to show that to my guests again.
Weather is warmer and tours are picking up a little. Talk soon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Global warming?????????





If you ask me there is another ice age on the way, the condensation on the drums that i keep my chairs in is frozen most mornings now.
I have started research on the aardvark, porcupine and bat-eared fox in the area, Not as easy as i thought. They have much bigger home territory's and move around much more. Maby someone have a tracking system somewhere that they can donate. I think this is going to be very heavy on my shoe account.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Meerkats in the mist



What a strange site, an eary mist took over our little meerkat valley the last couple of days. The meerkats just didn't want to wake up. Two day's in a row the tours were over four hours long.
But we survived it.

Looks like all the young males in the Lategansvlei/ folmoed area is on the move, we had another young intruder in our territory this morning. I think 'Boeta' the young male in our group is also that age and is on his way to go and find a girl and get married.