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Current Groups
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This site shows the meerkat groups that are currently monitored by the Kalahari Meerkat Project (as of 31st March 2014), along with background information on each group. This site is updated occasionally; for an up-to-date group composition, please refer to the Current LH report.

   

Name

Dom. female

Dom. male

No.

Alcatraz *

unk wild

Harrison VH

12

Baobab

Amarula BB

Mr. Lahey BB

21

Chalibonkas

Ricou SQ

Bumpy BB

        14

Drie Doring*

Mist D

unk wild

21

Ewoks

McDreamy KU

Tigi RR

        12

Friksarmy

Robindrew KU

Lanky Dave BB

19

Ghostbusters *

Luka KU

unk wild

        14

JaXX *

Diana L

Guiness wild

14

Kung Fu 

Cronenberg KU

George Michael VH

  5

Lazuli *

JubJub Bird L

Jazzy Jeff wild

  7

Mayans

Cinnamon AZ

Gizmo BB

        13

Nematoads

Bernie L

Crusty BB

         7

Pandora *

Molly AZ

Bibbiddi wild

        12

Quintessentials*

unk EK

unk wild

          6

Rascals (RR)

Edna May RR

Lorax EK

12

Skyfish *

unk wild

unk wild

  5+

Toyota (TY) *

Naggapatzi W

unk wild

  8

Überkatz (UK)

Frosting UK

Gump W

        19

Van Helsing (VH)

Egg VH

unk VH

12

Whiskers (W)

Pe'ahi W

Rufio L

   10

Zulus (ZU)*

Ocho Niple ZU

Cagliostro L

 19


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* indicates that the group is currently being (re)habituated, and no full data collection is done.

** indicates that neither habituation nor data collection is or can be done.

 


Group territories
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Update will follow.

 

Click on the picture to enlarge it.

 

The picture shows the approximate territories of the KMP's current meerkat groups based on burrow usage during June 2012. The marked areas enclose the sleeping burrows used by the respective group during that period; foraging territories may extend beyond the markings. Large blank areas between the marked territories are not monitored by the Kalahari Meerkat Project, i.e. they do not carry habituated meerkat groups.

 

Click on the links below for previous territory maps:

May/June 2011

December 2009

January and February 2009

February and March 2008

November and December 2007

July to September 2007

2004

 


Alcatraz (AT)
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Alcatraz are a mostly wild group that made it’s appearance in January 2014 in the former Sequoia territory South of the riverbed, with two habituated members: Harrison (VVHM026) and Captain Danger Awesome (VAZM044), with at least 6 wild adults and 4 pups. Not much else is known yet.


Baobab (BB)
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The Baobab are a group formed in December 2007 by four evicted Whiskers females, and three wild males. Dominance changed for a while: on female side between littermates Hawkeye and Cruise, on male side between Al Capone and Al Pacino. The Baobab have been growing to a 40-strong group, with a total of over 80 BB-born individuals in four years – they certainly dethroned Commandos as the fastest-growing foundation group. This is due to the fact that both founding females seemed able to bring their litters through; there hasn’t been any successful litter by Baobab-born subordinates. After Hawkeye's death in a car accident in 2010, Cruise held the dominant position unchallenged, with partner Al Capone. The group kept going from high to high, usually exceeding 30 members, until 16 males emigrated in one month, in July 2013, 12 of which formed Friksarmy with Kung Fu females while the other four joined Mayans. September brought a tragic end to Cruise's long reign; she was probably predated. Amarula followed in her tracks.

The Baobab hold a territory around Big Dune.
 
The Baobab are available as a Friends group.

 


Chalibonkas (CK)
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This group was formed in November 2013 by two Überkatz evictees Ricou and Talkeetna, and three Lazuli males led by Bumpy (of BB origin). They’ve managed to raise one litter and have given birth to a second, and seem to be a stable group by now. After Talkeetna’s death, Ricou is currently the only adult female.
 


Drie Doring (D)
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Drie Doring was one of the first wild groups the KMP habituated at the start of the project in 1993 - we celebrated the group's and the Life History's 20th Anniversary in October 2013!. From July 1995 until December 2005 they had one dominant female named Mabili (‘villain’ in Sotho). Born in November 1993, Mabili had 22 surviving litters and 79 surviving pups in her ten year reign. She was unable to continue breeding at this prodigious rate and over the latter years group size dwindled to the small group of meerkats headed by Mabili’s daughter Makonkie who took dominance from her mother in 2006. After the disappearing of the long-term dominant male Osprey, natal males acted as dominants. Makonkie was predated in Fall 2008, and her daughter Mist has been leading the Drie Doring since then. There was a succession of natal males - amongst which Finn Mac Cool, a very eccentric male - but rovers, mostly of Frisky origin, were frequent guests. A group of Drie Doring males immigrated to Frisky, with Drie-born Falco as a dominant male. Back home, Captain Planet assumed dominance. He and the other natal males were ousted when a group of four very wild males immigrated in October 2013.

‘Drie Doring’ is the Afrikaans name for the ‘Three Thorns’ shrub (Rhigozum trichotomum) which covers a big part of our reserve and is often used as a sentry post by meerkats. The Drie Doring group's range is South of the Frisky territory of old, on the Heights farm. 
 
The Drie Doring are available as a Friends group.


Ewoks (EK)
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The Ewoks were founded by evicted Kung Fu females and former Rascals and Colombians males. Dominant female McDreamy evicted the subordinate females during her first pregnancy and they dispersed; she remained the only adult female for a long time. Her first litter was killed in a burrow raid by Kung Fu, but since then the group has been growing steadily. Tigi’s place as dominant male remains unchallenged, so far, but Lorax, one of the oldest Ewoks males, recently won dominance at Rascals. Right now they are one of the most successful groups of the project - not least due to the fact that McDreamy managed to raise three successful litters this breeding season, and is pregnant with the fourth.
 
The Ewoks live South of the main road next to Kung Fu and Rascals, on the rolling red dunes.


Friksarmy (FA)
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Friksarmy were a group of 21 individuals on the day they came into existence - because they were the result of a chance encounter: A coalition of 12 Baobab rovers met the Kung Fu group and just took 9 of their subordinate females with them. Dominance switched both on the female and male side; Robindrew has been the dominant female for some months now, however. The first litter with an VFA code has been born in December 2014. Only recently, three females emigrated to form the Ghostbusters group.

 


Ghostbusters (GB)
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Ghostbusters are one of the latest additions to the monitored population, and a result of research on evicted females: Gypsy, Luka and Tyke left Friksarmy in December 2013, and were observed to form a new group with wild males. They have had two litters so far, and live far East of the KMP reserve. Luka now seems to be dominant.

 


Jaxx
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A group first seen in May 2008, formed by two Lazuli females who dispersed in December 2007, and a Hoax male who dispersed in October 2007. With them were two juveniles. The Hoax male was then displaced by two wild males. The group is led by Diana, and they have been growing steadily, until Vince the dominant male and several other members disappeared one by one, probably due to predation. Kori, a natal male, eventually established dominance in 2010. The group has been growing steadily, mostly due to Diana being so prolific - only two litters in 5 years are not her’s. July 2013 saw a major change in that the natal males including Kori were displaced by four wild immigrants. Only one of them, Scarface, remains with the group today.
 
The group lives on Heights farm, South of the main road. Their territory overlaps with an ostrich farm, so they  often can't be visited - due to the risk of an ostrich attack on a volunteer.

 


KungFu (KU)
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Kung Fu were formed in October 2007, as a motley group consisting of two Commandos females, and two Whiskers males, two wild males, and one Frisky male. Kleintjie (of Gattaca origin, recently Commandos) and Ningaloo (of Whiskers origin) established dominance, over time. All adults but the dominant couple emigrated again. The group was growing consistently though, and Kleintjie even gave birth to a litter of seven. Several older subordinate females were evicted, and formed the Ewoks group, led by McDreamy. The Kung Fu remained one of the more quiet groups, life-history wise, with a regular routine of births, but not a lot of drama - apart from the fact that “Klenky” and the Kung Fu starred in the Meerkats 3D movie. The start of tougher times was marked by the disappearance of long-term dominant male Ningaloo who went missing - possibly predated - in November 2012. Neighbour’s Rascals male Crux took over as dominant male after several of the natal males were roving. The group took a severe beating in numbers in July 2013 when nine subordinate females left to form the Friksarmy group - leaving Kung Fu with five members. Only one month later, Kleintjie died - probably due to the drought and her old age - and dominant male Crux followed her a month later. The remaining female, Cronenberg, became dominant by default, and five males with Van Helsing and Sequoia background immigrated. A wild female briefly joined them and assumed dominance, and she and Cronenberg had a mixed litter of eight pups, but the wild female was probably predated. Cronenberg managed to pull two pups through, so there's new hope for this once-mighty group.

The Kung Fu lived near the riverbed, in the center of the reserve, but gradually moved South of the road.


Lazuli (L)
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‘Lazuli’ was the second of the famous Avatar sisters (the others being Ziziphus, Igraine and Morgause), who founded the Lazuli group together with Belgarion, a wild male of unknown origin, in 1995. However, soon after the group formed Ziziphus took the role of the Lazuli dominant female. Her daughter Grumpy was dominant in Moomins, her granddaughter Aretha headed Lazuli, and her grandson Osprey led Drie Doring until his recent death.
Lazuli has been without a non-natal dominant male for more than two years, after Basil and later Cazanna died of a disease. Lazuli were for almost three years led by brother and sister, J. Alfred Prufrock and Aretha, but the Lazuli females were well frequented by roving visitors... Aretha died after a predator attack, and Young, the oldest and strongest female, took over dominance. The Lazuli males were replaced by a group of Whiskers males. Wollow seized male dominance. After a snake bite, Wollow was deposed by Rufus as dominant male but Wollow initially remained in the group. After dominance squabbles in 2011 Rufus settled as the dominant male. The group was growing steadily due to Young's prolific births but also due to the fact that subordinate females occasionally managed to get a litter through; furthermore the group has been free of TB for several years. The drought of 2013 brought a major change: it took Young, and all pups. Christiana followed her as the Lazuli dominant female. Soon after Rufus was lost, probably predated by a martial eagle. Six males then emigrated to Zulus, making room for Baobab male Bumpy, who was soon ousted by three wild males. Their habituation level has improved at high speed, so that the group may soon be back to full habituation. Only recently, three females emigrated to form the Nematoads group. Sadly, Christiana recently died, heavily pregnant, so JubJub Bird is now the new dominant female - who hopefully leads this small group back to their former glory!

The Lazuli live in the center of the reserve, North of the Kuruman riverbed in the Elveera flats.

They are available as a Friends group.


Mayans (MY)
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Mayans came into existence in October 2012 after a palace revolution at Aztecs, when Kathleen overthrew her mother and dominant female Monkulus - but the remainder of the Aztecs then switched sides to Monkulus! Monkulus didn’t take part in the ensueing dominance competition melée, but both male and female dominance changed on a regular basis. The group was also decimated by a group split and TB, with only 7 members remaining. They built strength - and got a new bloodline - with four Baobab males who immigrated in July 2013. Dominance - both male and female - kept changing, usually due to the death of the dominant, until eventually Monkulus became the dominant again. Only briefly though; she disappeared in December 2013, still weak from the drought season. Cinnamon has since taken over dominance. One litter with a VMY code has been successfully raised so far, born in October 2013 to subordinate female Inga, and a second VMY litter was born recently. The group recently suffered a few losses due to TB.

Mayans are not yet available as a Friends group, but their predecessor Aztecs is.

 


Nematoads (NM)
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Nematoads are another recent addition to the groups list thanks to evictees being followed past their eviction: Lazuli females Bernie, Fran-the-Wu-Man and Sutica formed a new group with Baobab male Crusty and a wild male, in January 2014. They have had their first litter, and with the wild male gone, are back to being a habituated group. They are located between Lazuli and Baobab territory.

 


Pandora (PA)
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Pandora is a rather coincidental addition to the list of monitored groups. One day in June 2011 the four Aztecs female were Aztecs, and the next day they had formed a new group with four Van Helsing rovers. Luckily they used a burrow just next to Aztecs (and the Gannavlakte farm house) and thus remained in the population... Female dominance took some time to settle between the two littermates Snowflake and Toblerone, with the latter having the upper hand. The males initially roved a lot, but finally the group got more cohesive. Pepper eventually took dominance, with Cecil remaining a prime rover. All males eventually disappeared, however - due to TB or unknown causes, so that the position of dominant male was free for a group of long-lost Van Helsing male Mr. Jacky and three wild males to take. Toblerone was predated at the same time, with Snowflake inheriting her position. Not for long though, as she was bitten by a snake, and Molly, the last of the founder females, followed as dominant female. In their first year of existence - that was dominated by a severe drought - they could only raise two pups to adulthood, but now produced a new litter. Male dominance is shaky, at the moment, after the remaining two wild males battled so hard that both of them were badly wounded.


Quintessentials (QL)
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The Quintessentials are a new group formed in January 2014 by Ewoks evictees Truffula and Barb-a-loot, with two wild males. They have had one small litter so far, but act as a cohesive group.

 


Rascals (RR)
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In 1998 Vivian females and wild males combined to start a new group that rapidly grew. The original dominant female Splash and dominant male Kine were killed by predators, but the group has very successfully reestablished after being reduced to 7 meerkats all under 18 months with the then 11 months old dominant female Yeca. She and the dominant male Spofl were also predated, and the group was then headed by Blondie. All Rascals males dispersed after the immigration of Frisky, and a succession of wild males, of which Grus and companions eventually stayed. The group barely grew over a long time, but a litter of six pups boosted their numbers. Female dominance switched twice, to a young female, Sancerre. She and Grus brought the group back to its former strength, growing it steadily over the years. The break came with the draught of 2013 that changed many of our groups: Grus died, probably of old age, and several adult males joined Kung Fu, leaving Rascals without a dominant male until for several months until Gooch established dominance. Later that year, Sancerre disappeared, at the end of a pregnancy, without a trace. Edna May became her successor as dominant female, and she was joined by Kung Fu male Hankson as new dominant male, while Gooch was away roving. One month later he was replaced by Ewoks male Lorax.

The Rascals live South of the main road on farmland, currently bordering no habituated, but at least one wild group.

 


Skyfish (SK)
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Skyfish are a new habituation group containing Whiskers rover Snotbubble. There are about six individuals plus three small pups and Snotbubble is subordinate. They live in old Zulus territory, in the Moomins triangle.
 


Toyota (TY)
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The Toyota group was formed in January 2008 by three evicted Whiskers females and three wild males, which are named after rugby players. They were first led by Finn who was ousted by Ju Drop, and emigrated to form Sequoia. Ju Drop disappeared however, and the group was then dominated by Miss Lilly the Pink and Gregan. The dominant couple succumbed to TB, and unfortunately the disease has claimed most Toyota meerkats until the group was down to one male and two juveniles. Firefly, the juvenile female, broke all age records when she started acting dominant and chasing rovers, in this setup, at the age of 7 months. She was soon joined by Fingal, a Drie Doring male, but he disappeared too soon. Firefly gave up dominant position soon after when two Whiskers evictees, Naggapatzi and Treva, immigrated, soon followed by a Whiskers rover, Princess Madcat. Unfortunately, they were not able to raise a litter in the 2013 drought season. The group was only slightly expanded when a group of four wild males, coming from the unstable Honey Badgers group, joined but also kicked out the two resident males. Naggapatzi could not keep the group stable, however, so she spent parts of the following months on her own, with the other group members being evicted or roving. Luckily two males and Firefly are back, since the group is now tending to their first successful litter in almost two years. The males remain very wild however, so that habituation levels increase only gradually.
 


Überkatz (UK)
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The Überkatz split off Sequoia at the end of May 2012 and became an independent group after a few fights with their source group. The males soon deserted the group to return to Sequoia, but three Whiskers rovers led by Gump immigrated, and stayed for good. The Überkatz were headed by Tina since their start, with littermate Ricou playing second fiddle. The group grew steadily, all Tina’s offspring - so Ricou and Talkeetna, the other founding female, left them to create the Chalibonkas group with Lazuli males. Tina recently disappeared, injured, after giving birth to a litter of six, so Frosting has taken over the position of dominant female and nurse.

They live in the dunes South of the river bend.

 


Van Helsing (VH)
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The Van Helsing group was formed in February 2008 by three evicted Whiskers females, and two wild males. One or more of the females had given birth while being evicted; the four pups were most probably Bananas'. Flo and Titan seemed to have settled in the dominant positions, and the group was growing steadily. However, in 2009 Flo was overthrown by Billy, and disappeared. Billy kept a tight grip on her group, and made them grow successfully, for four years - yet no Van Helsing individuals escaped her reach to form their own groups. Billy was found predated in May 2013; Frusicante took over dominance. Only two months later, eight of their males left, to join Nequoia and Sequoia, respectively. The vacant position was recently filled by two wild immigrant males. Female dominance has been shifting, with no female lasting longer than a few months before she was displaced by a sister.

 


Whiskers (W)
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Whiskers came into existence in 1998, with four Young Ones females and two Lazuli rovers - reinforced with a wild meerkat who had been brought to us (instead of the potjie) from Van Zylsrus. Change came with a rover party of Vivian origin in 2001 who immigrated into Whiskers, with the brothers Yossarian and Zaphod taking turns in male dominance. In early 2002, Flower took over female dominance and ruled Whiskers since then. She succumbed to a snake bite in January 2007, and her daughter Rocket Dog rose to power. After her death Ella established dominance; she was soon joined by Thundercat, a single Lazuli rover. The group slowly recovered from low numbers, growing to 30 members, all of which were Ella's offspring. In 2011 Whiskers saw dominance squabbles, and Enili rose as the dominant female; Ella and four other evictees dispersed but were later found again far to the East, named the Queens, with two wild males. Dominant male Thundercat disappeared in 2012, leading to a series of natal males of which Marxxs had the longest tenure. None of the females was able to raise a litter in the 2013 drought season, and several subordinates dispersed, decreasing the numbers further down to 8. May 2013 saw the immigration of four unrelated males, formerly of the Cave Men group, but three of them of Lazuli origin. Snowy assumed male dominance. Only a few months later, Enili was run over; she had only raised one pup to adulthood, during her tenure. The remaining two females in the six-strong group, Swift and Pe’ahi, job-shared dominance for several months until Pe’ahi finally took the prime seat. It was Swift, however, who recently gave birth to their latest litter of five pups, hopefully bringing the Whiskers count back to healthy numbers.

In the past years Whiskers usually stayed around the Rus en Vrede farm house.
 
Whiskers are our world-famous movie stars, with "their" Meerkat Manor series in four seasons between 2005 and 2008, and a full-length movie “Meerkat Manor: The Story Begins" that is available on DVD. In May 2012 they also featured in Planet Earth Live, on BBC1 - when snake-bitten but recovering Ernesto almost stole Swift the focus pup's show...
 
The Whiskers are available as a Friends group.

 


Zulus (ZU)
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A wild group encountered in 2009 at the far side of the Western riverbed, towards Pharside dam - wild except for the dominant male, Shaka Zulu. He was a former Lazuli and Hoppla male who had left the monitored population in September 2008. Habituation started in 2010, yet most animals remained too wild to mark and thus distinguish them. Only one, the dominant female, could be recognised from the start due to the fact that she has eight instead of six nipples. Her name is thus Ocho Niple. Habituation seemed to suffer a severe setback when Shaka Zulu succumbed to a snake bite in May 2013 - however, in September, six Lazuli males displaced seven Zulus males, boosting habituation levels immediately. Male dominance has not yet been settled for sure.

Only recently have the Zulu come closer to the other groups, so encounters are now occasionally observed.

 


Lost groups
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For the lost groups, please see here.

 



Last update:  23:05 19/04 2014
Current groups
Lost groups
Meerkat Facts & Figures


Drie Doring (© Pauline Toni 2014)




Ewoks (© Pauline Toni 2014)




Ghostbusters (© Pauline Toni 2014)




Jaxx (© Pauline Toni 2014)





Lazuli



Pandora (© Pauline Toni 2014)





Rascals



Überkatz (© Lyndsey Marris 2014)




Whiskers (© Pauline Toni 2014)




Zulus (© Pauline Toni, 2014)


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