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Our meerkat groups
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This site shows the meerkat groups that are currently monitored by the Kalahari Meerkat Project (as of 30th June 2012), 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. Click HERE to download a group tree, showing the founder groups of each group.

   

Name

Dom. female

Dom. male

No.

Aztecs (AZ)

Monkulus W

Molière AZ

25

Baobab (BB)*

Cruise W

Al Capone wil

36

Cave Men (CV)

Dikkop JX

Rufio L

          4

Drie Doring (D)

Mist D

Captn Planet D

15

Ewoks (EK)*

McDreamy KU

Tigi RR

         7

Frisky (F)

Muscat F

Falco D

12

Godzilla (GZ)*

Pancake GZ

Rafola TY

        12

Hooligans (HL)

Nik Nak SQ

Fat Jesus SQ

          3

JaXX (JX)

Diana L

Kori JX

22

Kung Fu (KU)

Kleintjie GG

Ningaloo W

31

Lazuli (L)

Young L

Rufus W

33

Nequoia (NE)

Kaluha NE

Puggle NE

        16

Pandora

Snowflake AZ

Pepper VH

         7

Rascals (RR)*

Sancerre RR

Grus wild

22

Sequoia (SQ)

Ru SQ

Dali AZ

  6

Toyota (TY)

Squeaker TY

Rococo JX

  5

Überkatz (UK)

Tina SQ

Bruce CB

        18

Van Helsing (VH)

Billy W

Titan wild

31

Whiskers (W)

Enili W

Thundercat L

   24

Zulus (ZU)*

Ocho Niple ZU

Shaka Zulu L

 25


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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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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

 


Aztecs (AZ)
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The Aztecs group was formed in March 2007 as a 15-strong splinter of the Whiskers family, but all adult males returned to the Whiskers within a month. Until September 2007, the Aztecs have consisted of three adult females, led by the oldest, Monkulus, and four pups. Only the youngest Aztec was a male. In September 2007, first a Young Ones rover, Homestar Runner, immigrated, but he was ousted by a Whiskers rover coalition led by Zaphod. The group then experienced changes due to evictions and roving males; three evicted females formed the Van Helsing group, several rovers emigrated to wild groups. Monkulus and Zaphod retained their dominance positions though.

So far only Monkulus raised successful litters. On 4 March 2011 Zaphod died of natural causes due to old age and the dominant male position remained open for a while, yet now Molière is acting as a natal dominant male beside Monkulus. In 2011 evicted females joined Van Helsing males to form Pandora.

The Aztecs were frequently observed near the Rus en Vrede farmhouse and the riverbed, but recently moved to the Gannavlakte farmhouse. Their territory borders Nequoia, Sequoia, Van Helsing and Pandora.

 

The Aztecs are available as a Friends group, together with Starsky and Hoax who were also Whiskers splinters. They can be visited by Earthwatchers or film crews.

 


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 has been changing 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 – they certainly dethrone 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 yet. After Hawkeye's death in a car accident, Cruise now holds the dominant position unchallenged.

The Baobab currently hold a territory around Big Dune.

 

The Baobab are available as a Friends group.

 


Chuckle Bros (CB)
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The Chuckle Bros are not a true meerkat group, but rather a term used for rovers that are no longer attached to any of the observed groups, or whose original group is Last Seen, but who are still observed on a regular basis.

 

There is currently only one meerkat with a VCB ID code, Bruce (VCBM001). He appeared in the population in May 2008 as a habituated, but not ID-chipped rover. It is probable that he was a member of one of the short-lived groups of 2007 who emigrated before he could be chipped.

 

Other Chuckle Bros included Homestar Runner and Philippe (both ex-Young Ones, LSEEN), Rhogan Josh (ex Whiskers, ex Lazuli, ex PK), Ash, Gijima and Mr. Scruff (dispersed ex-Elveera rovers who were once seen in an encounter with Commandos), or Monsoon Moon, an ex-JaXX male.

 


Cave Men (CV)
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Cave Men formed in November 2011 when three Lazuli rovers combined with three Jaxx evictees - but two of the females returned to Jaxx, so Dikkop remains the only female. The group grew again when an unknown juvenile meerkat returned with the roving males the next month. Dominant male Franz recently succumbed to injuries of unknown cause (maybe obtained during roving), and Rufio took over.

The Cave Men's territory is around the Rus en Vrede farmhouse. Their neighbours are Jaxx, Lazuli, Whiskers and Toyota.

 


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. 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 now leads the Drie Doring. The group has a majority of young members, after most subordinate adults dispersed or were evicted – one group of males dispersed together with Frisky females. There was a succession of natal males - amongst which Finn Mac Cool, a very excentric male - but rovers, mostly of Frisky origin, were frequent guests.

Very recently, a group of Drie Doring males immigrated at Frisky, with Drie-born Falco as a dominant male. Back home, Captain Planet assumed dominance.

‘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 Frisky's, on the Heights farm.  

 

The Drie Doring are available as a Friends group and they can also be visited by Earthwatch or film crews.

 


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. Her first litter was killed in a burrow raid by Kung Fu, but now the group is growing - yet McDreamy remains the sole adult female for the time being.

 

The Ewoks live South of the main road next to Kung Fu and Rascals. They cannot be visited by Earthwatch or film crews.

 


Frisky (F)
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Frisky formed in 1999 when females from Young Ones met with wild males. After initial dominance changes, Jubulani ("celebration" in Sotho) was the highly prolific dominant female of the group for many years; Frisky hold the record as largest group ever, counting 49 in March 2002. After the wild dominant male at Jubulani’s side died she joined with Young Ones males. When Jubulani died her daughter Frascati established dominance for two years. Her daughter Bootle became dominant after her, a new wild male immigrated and was briefly dominant though he died of disease. Since then a Drie Doring male, Gazebo, has immigrated and taken dominance. Several subordinate adult females dispersed with a group of Drie Doring males.

After the loss of Bootle, her daughter Quaver took over dominance, alongside Gazebo. In 2011, a group of Frisky males immigrated, and Falco took male dominance. The group has been hit hard by tuberculosis; it got quiet until Quaver had to be euthanased in June 2012. Muscat is now the dominant female.

The Frisky range is South of the main road, on the Heights farm, neighbouring Gozilla and Drie Doring.

 

The Frisky are available as a Friends group and can occasionally be visited by Earthwatchers or film crews.


Godzilla (GZ)
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Godzilla are a wild group that is being habituated - yet they've probably been around for a very long time, known as the Abba group.

Habituation progressed quite well, but TB hit Godzilla hard in the past months. It remains to be seen whether the recent immigration of the three Yardies males can stop this sad trend.

Godzilla live around the Heights farm, bordering Jaxx, Toyota and Frisky. The Toyota founding males may have been of Godzilla origin, guessing from their looks.

 

 


Hooligans (HL)
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The Hooligans are a spin-off of Sequoia that formed in early 2012 after a splinter consisting of three Sequoia females and one male could be re-tracked again. After the dispersal of one female, they now consist of three meerkats, led by Nik Nak. 

They live in the center of the reserve.

 


JaXX (JX)
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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 now 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. All offspring is Diana's. 

 

The group lives on Heights farm, South of the main road. Their territory overlaps with an ostrich farm, so that they quite often can't be visited - in order to not risk an ostrich attack on a volunteer. For this reason they are often also not accessible to Earthwatchers or film crews.
 

The JaXX are not yet available as a Friends group.

 


Kung Fu (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 is growing consistently though, and Kleintjie even gave birth to a litter of seven. The Kung Fu live near the riverbed, in the center of the reserve. They are fully habituated and can be visited by Earthwatchers and Film crews.

 

The Kung Fu are not available as a Friends group, since their history is still short (and not very eventful).

 


Lazuli (L)
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‘Lazuli’ was the second of the famous Avatar sisters (the other being Ziziphus, Igraine and Morgause), who founded the Lazuli group together with Belgarion, a wild male of unknown origin, in 1995. However, soon after 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 disposed by Rufus as dominant male but Wollow initially remained in the group. After dominance squabbles in 2011 Rufus now has settled. The group is growing steadily due to Young's prolific births, and has been free of TB for several years now. 

The Lazuli live in the center of the reserve, North of the Kuruman riverbed in the Elveera flats. They can be visited by Earthwatchers and film crews.

They are available as a Friends group.

 


Nequoia (NE)
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The Nequoia are one of the younger groups when it comes to the time observation started: the presumably wild group was first observed by two Friends during an Earthwatch trip in April 2009, but could only be re-tracked in May/June 2009. They were found near Gattaca Dam, i.e. between the territories of Geckos, Aztecs, Sequoia and Kung Fu. For some time they were believed to be a lost splinter of Sequoia, yet their name means they are "Not Sequoia". No known individuals emigrated from other groups could be identified in Nequoia; however, habituation progressed exceptionally well. The dominant couple was lost after a few months and dominance had settled with Kaluha and Pantxo - yet several litters are of Kaluha's sister Kikka. Only recently TB took a few of the Nequoia members including Pantxo, and Puggle took over male dominance.

 

The Nequoia can usually be visited by Earthwatch or film crews.

 

The Nequoia are not yet available as a Friends group.

 


Pandora (PA)
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Pandora is a recent addition to the list of monitored groups, and a coincidental one. One day the four Aztecs female were Aztecs, and the next day they had formed a new group with Van Helsing rovers. Luckily they used a burrow just next to Aztecs (and the Gannavlakte farm house) and thus remain in the population... Female dominance is probably not yet settled between the two littermates Snowflake and Toblerone. Unfortunately only one pup has so far made it beyond the first months. The males initially roved a lot, but it not seems that the group is cohesive.  

The group is fully habituated, and visits by Earthwatch or film crews may soon be possible.

 


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

 

The group is currently being re-habituated, and therefore not accessible to Earthwatchers or film crews.
 

The Rascals are not yet available as a Friends group.

 


Sequoia (SQ)
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The Sequoia were formed by two evicted females: Benzedrine, the No. 2 in Kung Fu, and Finn, who had just been ousted from the dominant position of her Toyota group. The females teamed up with several rovers, until they seemed to settle with the two subordinate Toyota males. They however returned to their own group shortly after, and the females were considered lost; the group's observation was suspended. However, they resurfaced again in December 2008, in the company of four males: Bruce (a long-term rover of unidentified background) is the dominant male, and the other males are of different origins (Toyota, Hoax/Jaxx, wild). They have been growing to 15 members, during their absence. The group experienced a permanent group split in early 2009; the splinter led by Finn and Sid Vicious was considered lost, until the male was found in late 2009, in a group named the Pretenders. Meanwhile, the group consisted only of Benzedrine and Bruce, and their offspring. In June 2012 however, a group split became permanent, with Sequoia being reduced to Benzedrine and four subordinates. Their splinter, called the Überkatz, attacked them and savaged Benzedrine, so that she lost her dominance position to Ru. However, two Aztecs rovers recently joined their ranks.

 

Sequoia live in the center of the reserve near the riverbed; habituation of the group progressed well and they could be visited by Earthwatchers or film crews - at least until the recent upheaval.

 

They are not yet available as a Friends group, since their history is still short.


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 all but five Toyota meerkats; only one adult female is left right now.

The group is generally accessible to Earthwatchers or film crews, but it remains to be seen if this changes with the TB situation.

The Toyota are not available as a Friends group, since their history is only short.

 


Überkatz (UK)
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The Überkatz are a very recent addition to the group list - they split off Sequoia at the end of May 2012 and became an independent group after a few fights with their source group. They are currently headed by Tina; male dominance is not yet established.

They live in the dunes South of the river bend. It remains to be seen how the territories in this area are distributed.

 


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 are most probably Bananas'. Flo and Titan seemed to have settled in the dominant positions, and the group has been growing steadily. Only recently, Flo was overthrown by Billy, and disappeared. Billy is the mother of all but one of the current offspring. Re-habituation of the group was resumed and progressed well.

 

They can be visited by Earthwatchers or film crews.

 

The group is not yet available as a Friends group.

 


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 has 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 after a low in numbers, but grew to 30 members, all of which 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, now named the Queens, with two wild males.

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. They can be visited by Earthwatchers and film crews.


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 are still too wild to mark and thus distinguish them. Only one, the dominant female, can be recognised due to the fact that she has eight instead of six nipples. Her name is thus Ocho Niple.

Only recently have the Zulu come closer to the other groups, so encounters are now occasionally observed. They cannot be visited by Earthwatch nor film crews at this time, and are not yet a Friends group.

 


Lost groups
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For the lost groups, please see here.

 



Last update:  07:20 30/08 2012
Current groups
Lost groups
Meerkat Facts & Figures



Drie Doring




Frisky




Lazuli




Rascals




Whiskers

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