Following Meerkat Family

Family Meerkat Pictures

It always was my dream to see a Meerkat family. We were arriving after a bumpy Cessna flight from South Africa in the Makgadikgadi Pan, a natural salt pan in Botswana. The next morning the adventure started to follow a Meerkat family on their foraging tour in the desert and, of course, to take Suricate photographs.

We arrived early morning at their burrow, and the first Meerkat had already a peak of the entrance. Who is coming? Well, me, I want to see all the fun out in the wild and about with the little Meerkats. After a few minutes, the curiosity of the Suricate clan was significant, the hunger probably too, and they came all out of the burrow. It did not stop, one after the other, more and more. I should have counted, but didn’t. Many Meerkats were coming out, and I started to wonder how big is their underground home! This group was large, and all were running, jumping, or searching for food around our legs. These little fellows are not that big, probably around 25-45cm tall when standing on their back legs scouting for predators.

The Meerkat sentry. Meerkats always look for predators.

Suricate family sunbathing

After the whole Suricate family has left the burrow, a little sunbath was taken. The hunt begins, foraging for food. One adult animal was the outlook for predators and the other Meerkats searching for lizards, frogs, or bugs. Sometimes I got a little bit buried in flying sand and dust while one animal was digging in the ground for a bug and me on the ground just beside it. While on the ground, I felt something on my legs, I fast checked what creature wants to bite me, and I saw a little one crawling along my leg, jumping off to grab that frog! Bon appetite! Okay, that is fine with me, an animal needs to eat. I went on taking pictures of these fast animals digging in the ground. Then again, I felt something, this time on my back, wondering up to my head.

Well, when the tail of this head intruder was in my way, I knew what it is: The Sentry Meerkat is doing its duty – gazing the landscape for predators.

The Meerkats are digging for food in the desert.

Meerkat Watchtower

The Meerkat decided to use me as a watchtower for scanning the landscape. Every Meerkat clan has its sentries, which they swop during the day the scouting shift for predators. So, this guard on my head has found its place and seemed quite comfortable on my head! If just that tail would have been a tad to the right or left! I did not touch the tail at all or the Meerkat, even if the Meerkat touched me!

I went on with my job taking photographs on the ground. Crawling in the sand over bushes and around. This Suricate guard on my head seemed to enjoy the free ride on a tower. It was fine with me as long it did not pee or bite. None of that happened as along their journey. After about 10min, he left me while I was on the ground again, not too long, and the next Scout was on my shoulder. “Hello, little chap, wanna free ride too?”

The Meerkat Sentries. Both animals are scouting the landscape for predators.

We spent about 2-3 hours with the whole family, walking across the desert about 2-3km to another underground castle. One after the other disappeared into the burrow for a cooler spot. The last animal had another look and gone. I was again wondering that so many Meerkats have space in this underground castle.

Meerkats Stock photos are available as well as prints in my portfolio. Do you have a few more minutes? Why not check out another African wildlife post on my blog.

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