Together with Prof. Tim Clutton-Brock and Prof. Marta Manser, I have decided to end the Friends of the KMP membership program.
We will no longer accept new Friends nor renew FKMP memberships. The existing memberships will however remain active for their entire term.
The KMP and FKMP website will of course stay online and will be updated as needed. The Meerkatter and Life History tables will continue to be published over the coming months, but will then only be circulated to a smaller audience, on a less frequent schedule. The Friends burrow will eventually be closed. It will still be possible to visit the KMP field site in a one-week or Sunday visit. And last but not least, those of you who wish to contribute to support the KMP are kindly invited to do so with a donation.
Let me reassure you that this decision was anything but lightly taken. The efforts on part of the KMP life history volunteers to prepare the Friends reports have grown too big for to the audience reached. And for myself, the efforts needed have started to exceed my own capacity over the past year or two, besides my family and a demanding job.
The (F)KMP has been an important part of my life for the past 13.5 years and I am proud of what we built and achieved together. We have seen meerkats come and go, dominants raise and fall, meerkat groups form, grow and dwindle – is it fate that Whiskers and Lazuli have marked the FKMP’s beginning, and keep going on? But like many of you, our Friends, the FKMP has not only given me the chance to learn a lot about meerkats and their behaviour, get access to interesting research data, and contribute funds to KMP research – but also to get to know interesting and kind people all around the world.
I am very grateful to Tim and Marta for their open-mindedness when sharing scientific data with the public was still a bit of a no-no in the research world, and their generous support for the FKMP over the years. A Thank You too to the many Life History volunteers and KMP researchers who gathered and prepared data for the reports and website. The FKMP would also not have been the success it was without a handful of dedicated volunteers around the globe. Above all go my thanks out to Pronker who has been the good soul in our Burrow from the very beginning, helping with everything from membership administration, meticulously proofreading group chronologies, managing the forum to making up texts for the KMP Christmas cards… Last but not least thank you to all Friends who have supported us over all these years, and thank you for your understanding now. It’s been a great experience working with you, and for the FKMP!
Some of the long-term Friends may remember that it was Shakespeare (VWM054) who kind of kicked off the Friends of the Kalahari Meerkat Project adventure in early 2006 – so let me close with a Shakespeare quote: ‚Though she be but little, she is fierce.‘ We have learnt so much more than this about meerkats over the years, yet it still holds true.
The December LH files are a bit late – my apologies for this.
December is the peak of breeding time – so this report is all about pregnancies and pups! Of 23 females pregnant at the beginning of the month, five dominant females gave birth to a successful litter: Jaxx’ Baloo (6 pups), Elrond Council’s Tayl Baez (5 pups) and Whiskers’ Swift. The litters of Zulus’ Poma and Make-a-Plan’s Bridget were yet to emerge on New Years Eve. The success of Swift’s litter remained unclear for a while, with only faint lactation marks (i.e. sand sticking to her nipples) for good old Swift, but 5 pups emerged! They are yet to be named.
Lazuli’s Filthy Mac Nasty and Ubuntu’s Daisy were less successful, their litter was lost. Habituation group Freetails’ dominant female Floob unfortunately lost her litter too – and her male.
There has only be little rain this month, let’s hope the rest of the rainy season will be better.
Just in time for Christmas the November Life History files have been uploaded.
Unfortunately, Egg, long-term dominant female of Van Helsing and eldest female in the current population, has died in a fight with Make-a-Plan. She was weakened by TB and could not put up much of a fight. She died from her injuries.
Eldest subordinate female Goblin was also found dead, on the main road; Van Helsing are currently led by Inara (VVHF109). The upheaval led to the demise subordinate females Molly-Moo (VVHF113), King Eric (VVHF115) and Murray (VVHF116) who teamed up with roving Ubuntu males Tino (VUBM002) and Purple Wizard (VUBM003) and a wild (but fairly human-tolerant) male, forming the new group X-Force (XF).
But this is not all that changes in the KMP group structure: Welcome Namaqua (NQ) – this new group was founded by MP’s Heatherleigh (VQLF018), Megatron II (VMPF001) and evicted male Chateaubriand (VMPM005) plus Lazuli male Lewie (VLM228).
Click here to download the LH Table. As a little Christmas present to our Friends and website visitors, we also include a territory map as of November 2018 – please click here!
Friends will find “The Meerkatter” issue here (login needed).
A merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all Friends and meerkat lovers!
The October Life History files have been uploaded.
Baobab are no longer… With Hippie (VBBF142) the last remaining female passed away mid October, bringing the history of this once so successful group to a sad end. Unfortunately, also Egg, dominant female of Van Helsing, is showing signs of decline – hopefully not following Baobab’s path.
Make-a-Plan have a new dominant male, Le Grand Obstacle (VVHM103) who immigrated with 3 VH males. Run Amuk’s dominant female Eedward (VJXF097) disappeared over night, so Bean (VRUF001) is now dominant.
With the start of the rainy season come the roving trips: A group of 6 Lazuli males crossed the entire reserve to find other females.