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Friends FAQ
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Do you have questions to the "Friends of the Kalahari Meerkat Project" programme? Please find answers to the most frequent questions here.

 

 

 




What exactly is the FKMP, and how is it set up? Is it the same as the KMP?
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Inspired by the success of the kalahari-meerkats.com website, the directors of the KMP, Prof. Tim Clutton-Brock and Prof. Marta Manser, have agreed to provide much more information about the KMP meerkats to the interested public. We identified an independent society – the “Friends of the Kalahari Meerkat Project” – as the ideal form for this venture, which would in turn also support the KMP research, and ultimately the meerkats.

The Friends of the Kalahari Meerkat Project (FKMP) is a society organised under Swiss law (Art. 60 ff ZGB). The purpose of the society is two-fold:

  • “The FKMP society supports research on meerkats and their ecosystem, performed at the Kalahari Meerkat Project, with funds, which are contributed by the FKMP members in the form of membership fees and donations.
  • The FKMP society fosters the knowledge about meerkats, and specifically about the KMP meerkats, in people not directly affiliated with the KMP. The FKMP does so by making information on the meerkats available exclusively to members via the FKMP website, or on other paths agreed upon by the board.”


People interested in meerkats and willing to financially support the KMP can become members (“Friends”). The society’s operation is conducted by the board, presided by Evi Bauer (Switzerland), and by a small number of active members. Furthermore, a Funding Committee including biologists as scientific advisors decides on the usage of the Friends Funds for the support of research projects in the KMP.

The FKMP society is in general legally independent from the Kalahari Meerkat Project (KMP), though the two organisations are functionally linked. The KMP provides the raw data on meerkats, and has certain rights in conjunction with the FKMP society.
 


Where does the KMP get the money to do meerkat research?
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The Kalahari Meerkat Project mainly relies on research grants for the general operation of the project, but additional sources of funds include revenue from filming or Earthwatch.

Expenses may include costs for eggs and water (i.e. the only things given to the meerkats directly), research equipment (scales, radio collars, plastic bags for samples, but also computers or cars, etc.), or food, housing and compensation for the researchers (volunteers) who are employed by the KMP to observe meerkats and record data.

However, it may be that the KMP has extraordinary expenses that cannot be covered by these traditional sources.

An important part of meerkat research is carried out by PhD students and other independent researchers, who have their specific meerkat research projects, investigating e.g. mobbing, roving, evicting or begging behaviour, but also meerkat vocalisations or meerkat diseases like tuberculosis. These researchers are the ones who will later publish their results, and are thus one of the main bodies to advance knowledge about meerkats. Most of them are young researchers who just started their academic career, and it often proves difficult for them to secure the funds needed for their projects.

Grants to such projects are really the most direct way to support the expansion of knowledge about meerkats.
 


I want to support the meerkats – does my FKMP membership fee go to them?
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The funds collected from FKMP memberships or donations are used to support meerkat research in the Kalahari Meerkat Project.

The membership fees and donations contribute to the “Friends Fund”.  The KMP or independent meerkat researchers can apply to the FKMP society for grants from this Friends Fund to support their research project, or it can be used for extraordinary expenses the KMP cannot cover with other means.

Grants from the Friends Fund may only be used for research projects about meerkats and their environment, based in the Kalahari Meerkat Project. With this, the FKMP strives to directly support the KMP, and ultimately the reserve and its meerkats. No other projects can apply to the Friends Funds.

The contribution for Friends visits will cover the expenses by the KMP to provide this experience, as well as contribute to the operation of the KMP.

We strive to maximise the amount of money given to the KMP or meerkat researchers, after the expenses of operating the FKMP are covered.
 


Who decides how the FKMP funds are used to support KMP research?
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Researchers apply to a FKMP Funds Committee who decides on grants. This committee consists of members of the FKMP board, as well as scientific advisors with a background in biological research. The KMP itself is not part of the Funds Committee; researchers have to be accepted by the KMP though before they can apply for a Friends Fund grant.
 


Why do I have to pay for information that was for free before?
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You won't have to pay for information that was provided for free until now, it will remain for free. For example, the past and future monthly life history reports tables will still be publicly available.

The Friends programme is for people who want to support the KMP, and want to know even more about the project's individual meerkats and groups - because we believe that many meerkats that lived or live in the KMP are as dear and interesting as the Meerkat Manor stars! People are now able to learn a lot of details about the history of the meerkat groups, to an extent that has few parallels in any other research project we know of. We decided to make this amount of information available to members exclusively, for two reasons:

  • The FKMP wants to support the KMP in a way that we believe is most efficient in sustainably helping the project, and in increasing the knowledge about meerkats: by supporting the projects of young researchers. They struggle harder than established researchers to raise funds for their projects, but they are the ones who will publish their results and thus maintain the long-term success of the KMP as a research project of highest reputation.
  • The kalahari-meerkats.com website, as well as the information shared with the Friends, is prepared by a handful of people who invested hundreds of hours of volunteer work. We will continue to do so for the foreseeable future because we believe that the KMP is worth this support, and as a thank-you for the data the researchers so generously provide. There are expenses however that need to be covered.

 

 


What kind of data will be available to Friends? Will all our questions be answered?
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The data Friends receive will always focus on individual meerkats and meerkat groups, and their life histories, or current events in the project. These data are embedded in the wealth of knowledge about meerkats and their behaviour the KMP has gathered and published in the past 14 years.

The Friends programme is however not intended as a platform to share the results of ongoing experiments, or raw data, as these are - like in any other research project - only shared in scientific publications or on scientific conventions. Success in research is measured by the number and quality of scientific publications, which very directly influence the availability of funds. If we made preliminary results, conclusions or statistical data available to the public, we would seriously jeopardise the ability of the KMP to obtain grants in the future.

The KMP lets us take part in what is going on in the meerkat world, but the KMP will always have the right to not answer a question. We still believe that studying the available data is immensely interesting - because we care for the individuals, even if statistics do not.
 


Can I choose more than one group, as a Friend?
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As a Friend supporting the KMP research, you get access to detailed information about your favourite meerkat group(s). You can choose as many of the available meerkat groups as you like. We offer several membership levels differing in the number of groups chosen (click here for details); this results in a discount if you decide to select more groups. Please state on your registration form which groups you want to choose.

 

At the start of the FKMP programme, the following groups are available:

 

  • Commandos
  • Elveera/Phantom
  • Gattaca
  • Lazuli
  • Moomins
  • Vivian
  • Starsky/Aztecs/Hoax
  • Whiskers
  • Young Ones/Avatar

 

The other current groups will be made available within 1-3 months; lost groups will become available afterwards. Please note that some groups can come "bundled" with others.

 


I want to "upgrade" my membership to a higher level - can I do this?
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If you wish to support the KMP research even more, and receive information about more meerkat groups, you can easily "upgrade" your membership level. Please contact us via email, or via the membership form.

 

If you upgrade your membership within one month after the initial activation of your membership, you will just pay the difference between the initial and the new level.

 

Example: You start as a Pup Friend (25 GB£) on 2nd December 2007, and want to upgrade to Juvenile Friend (60 GB£) by 20th December 2007 - you pay the difference of 35 GB£, and your membership for all three groups will last until 20th December 2008.

 

Later membership upgrades are calculated on a pro rata temporis basis.

 


Can you explain the copyright rule in the Small print section? What is allowed, what isn't?
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The FKMP was founded in order to benefit the meerkat research at KMP. There is a lot of work of KMP and FKMP staff going into preparation of the content we share with Friends. We all do this on a volunteer basis, so that as much profit as possible goes to the KMP.

 

Therefore we share the information on a honour system basis, trusting that true Friends of the KMP will support the KMP by not sharing the information they obtained with the public. As a Friend, you can discuss the meerkats in the Friends forum which is only open to Friends. It is not forbidden to discuss one or another of the latest events with non-Friends. But the FKMP will in any case remain the owner of the information shared, and we consider it an infringement of the copyright, and a reason to terminate your membership, if you copy content from the restricted-access sections to places other than the FKMP website, or if you make the group information, pictures, role calls and other information you receive available to other people, be it via email, on other websites, or in any other way. If this is not respected, the KMP or the FKMP will even consider to stop this programme again.

 

Our love for the meerkats, and our interest for the KMP brought us here in the first place, and we want to share this with as many people as possible. We believe that the pup membership fee is low enough for most people to join, and there is the possibility of gift memberships. Please support us by respecting the copyright.

 


How can I donate to the KMP?
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If you do not wish to become a member of the FKMP but still donate to the KMP, or if you wish to donate a different amount of money to the KMP, you can still do this via the FKMP organisation. Please contact us via the membership/donation form (click here), selecting “Donation” instead of a group.

If donations are contributed as earmarked for a special purpose (e.g. land maintenance, studies on specific behaviour or on meerkat diseases), the KMP has to agree that such conditions can really be met. If you wish to donate for a specific purpose, please contact us via the membership/donation form, and we will get back to you for details.
 


How can I pay my membership fee, or donations?
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Membership fees and donations can currently be paid in US$ or GB£ via Paypal or via direct money order to our bank account.

 

Payment by Paypal:

  • "Pup Friends" (subscribing to information on one meerkat group) can send their membership fee via PayPal to the FKMP (click here to subscribe via PayPal), and will receive their Friends package electronically just after we are notified of the payment.
  • Members of all other levels are kindly requested to submit their data via the Friends membership form (click here to access it). You will be contacted via email with further information for your payment.
  • Please note that Paypal offers you the possibility to pay via credit card, or to transfer money from your bank account to your PayPal account directly in case you do not own a credit card.

 

Payment by direct money order:

  • You can send your membership fee by money order (money transfer) from your bank account, to the FKMP bank account, if you don't wish to use PayPal. Please contact us via the Friends membership form (click here).
  • We will send you the details of our bank account. Please contact your bank for how to transfer the payment. Note that the bank may charge you a fee.

 

Payment by personal check directly to the FKMP is unfortunately not available, as this is prohibited by law at the legal seat of the FKMP. You may be able to make private arrangements for a gift membership.

Gift memberships are available via the Friends membership form.

 

Please note that the entire FKMP team works on a volunteer basis; it thus may take up to 2-3 days until we can respond to your application or payment confirmation. We apologise for this.

 


Are membership fees and contributions tax-deductible as a charitable contribution?
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Unfortunately, as the legal setup of non-profit tax-exempt organisations in multiple countries is very complex and expensive for a small start-up venture like the FKMP, membership fees and contributions are not tax-deductible as charitable contributions in all countries. 

 

We will of course send you a receipt for your membership fee or other contribution, which you can use for tax matters, if tax laws in your country allow this. Such a receipt will be available after year end, or on request.

 

Please note however that the FKMP is organised as a nonprofit tax-exempt organisation under Swiss law and does not have to pay taxes on the money raised by membership fees or donations, thus maximizing the impact your money has for the KMP.

 


How can I change my personal data (address, password...)?
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Friends can change their personal data on the "Change your data" site - click here to access it.

 


My login doesn't work, or I forgot my password - how can I get a new one?
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Please contact us by replying to any of the emails you received from kalahari-meerkats.com, or else contact us via the membership form. We can then manually set a new password. Please apologise if this takes a day or two.

 


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