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Meerkat Manor in the Kalahari – Part 2

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Here is the next installment on the adventures of Kaspar and Kirri and the year is 2013.

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10 January 2013 – Comments on Kaspar`s disappearance for 8 hours: “What`s the fuss about?? Can`t a chap go off on his own now and again? I`m not a kid any more, you know!” Kirri: What`s this I can smell on you? Cheap perfume? Shame on you, brother!

 

15 January 2013 – AHA!! Now we know why Kaspar disappears in the early morning and comes back hours later completely knackered ! He`s got a girlfriend!! Suprise Suprise! A little wild female that has been evicted from her group that hangs around waiting for him in the riverbed. Kirri, like Queen Victoria, IS NOT AMUSED!

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27 January 2013 – Here`s Kirri`s special friend Slinky. He and Kaspar don`t get on very well and you can easily tell Slinky from the other Yellow mongooses that hang around here because he`s got a big patch of hair missing from the end of his tail. Kaspar came dancing into the house with his mouth full of fur, hence the hole in Slinky`s tail. He also had a nice bite on his backside, but we don`t talk about that!

 

28 January 2013 – Granddaughter Ariel says: “I know I said I`d like a close-up of you, Kirri, but this is ridiculous”.

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4 February 2013 – Kirri is now into meditation in the evenings. She can`t quite manage the Lotus Position yet, but she`s getting there! At least she`s got the buddhistic tummy right!

 

5 February 2013 – THE ADVENTURES OF DON KASPAR – Kaspar`s love affair seems to have ended with a bang. He was missing for two days last week and we thought something bad had happened to him. It had, in a way, because he came back rather subdued, late one evening, with bite marks on his back leg and tail. Since then, he`s made no attempt to relocate his little wild girlfriend. We think she`s vanished and Kaspar`s love-life is now looking a bit bleak.

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10 February 2013 – Kaspar is in to Housekeeping! The days have been so hot that he and Kirri aren`t active until its almost sunset. With a bit of effort, burrow entrances are cleared of all the sand the duststorms blew into them. Very good for the tummy muscles too (and Kaspar needs this badly!).

 

19 February 2013 – After a lot of busy digging, Kirri finally finds a tok-tokkie beetle larva, which promptly disappears again but this time into her stomach. Best meerkat food ever!

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8 March 2013 – Andre is finding out that one of the most difficult things about getting close-up shots of certain animals (who shall be nameless) is adjusting for the focal length of his lens. The way these two behave, I think he`s going to have to invest in a Macro!

 

13 March 2013 – Kirri says: Wait a moment Kaspar. Wasn`t that ROADRUNNER that just shot past?? (Beep – Beep!)

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20 March 2013 – K-2 vs. THE MARAUDERS 2-DAY MATCH – Today, the 2-day match, played at the Guesthouse Pitch between Kirri + Kaspar (K-2) and The Marauders (the wild 4) ended in a draw. In an action-packed, non-stop face-off (reminiscent of American Football without a ball) the final bite score was Marauders: 2; K-2: 1. Bites were scored by the dominant female for the Marauders and Kirri for K-2. Rematch expected soon. (Kaspar was a total wimp. If he hadn`t tried being pally with the opposing team, he wouldn`t have been bitten (in the tail nochal) and bites would have been a draw.)

 

26 March 2013 – An innocent Kaspar being his usual clownish self again (but the puddle is real!)

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2 April 2013 – THIS IS WHAT IS CALLED “DESPERATION” – If its pouring with rain, what other options do frustrated little meerkats have to dig? Bad luck for the pot plants though!

 

7 April 2013 – Kirri in her favourite place, draped over Andre`s left arm when he`s sitting on the stoep. From here she can keep a sharp eye out for predators and people arriving but it rather cramps Andre`s style!

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9 April 2013 – WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES! Portraits of “The Lady Kirri” – at 3 months and now all grown up. (Between us, she`s still a bit of a spoiled brat!)

 

14 April 2013 – Kaspar busy at one of the most important daily tasks for a male meerkat – checking the “Crown Jewels”. He keeps having to reassure himself that they`re still there and in good working order. Just to be ready if opportunity knocks!

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17 April 2013 – KASPAR`S COMMENT FOR THE DAY: NAG! NAG! NAG! WHY DON`T YOU LOT SHUT UP! Maybe I do smell funny …. but a man`s got to do what a man`s got to do!

 

21 April 2013 – Winter is here already. Just before Easter we were sweltering and now we`re in winter clothing! Kaspar and Kirri have to warm themselves up in the morning sun but are having problems. A Yellow mongoose baby we call “Cheeky” gets in on the act and messes up their early-morning-sunning poses with a vengeance. Kaspar, especially, “is not amused” by all this.

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23 April 2013 – KASPAR SAYS:”WHAT AN INDIGNITY – AND ITS NOT EVEN MY KID!”

 

17 May 2013 – FUR COATS ARE IN FASHION AGAIN … BUT ONLY ON THEIR ORIGINAL OWNERS! Little Cheeky, our baby Yellow mongoose, poses to show off his/her winter clothing. All ready to meet those sub-zero temperatures due any day now (ugh!). He/she (we`re not sure which yet) really lives up to its name. It bashes K2 about at feeding time and even stands on its hindlegs on Kaspa`s back to get the goodies first. As you can imagine, Kaspar doesn`t think much of this at all! He`s the baby of the little Yellow mongoose group that lives in the burrows behind my house.

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17 May 2013 -SCRATCHING UP A STORM! Kirri in full `threat-scratching` mode, sand flying everywhere. Meerkats do this when groups `face off` against one another, taking out their aggression on the sand (which can`t fight back) rather than risk nasty bites by getting tangled up with opponents. It also shows the enemy how strong and vigorous you are and warns them to keep their distance. It doesn`t help much in Kirri`s case, poor girl, she somehow gets bitten every time! That`s the problem with matriarchies – the vicious fighters are the girls.

 

18 May 2013 – TERRIBLE TRIO BACK AGAIN! In full “war dance” mode, this little group lays siege to poor Kirri once again today. She is still recuperating from the bitten leg she got the last time they met. The dominant female seems determined to drive Kirri away. Kaspar, as usual, if not there when you need him (or do we need him?? Questionable). Her human pack members, however, will defend little Kirri to the last!

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21 May 2013 – WE DON`T SEE MUCH OF KASPAR ANY MORE … he`s off early in the morning, leaving Kirri behind, and only turns up at night for FOOD. We wondered what he was up to, then came upon this advert by accident on one of the internet dating sites! Question answered !!! (He is a handsome chappie, though)

 

25 May 2013 – WHY NOT TRY A MEERKAT SOLAR PANEL? Our new range in solar panels is called the “Kirri”. It heats up very efficiently and even moves itself automatically from place to place to get the most out of the sunshine. A “must” for every home!

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2 June 2013 – KASPAR FANS WILL BE SAD TO HEAR THAT WE WON`T SEE HIM MUCH IN FUTURE. It seems as if his Internet ad paid off. He was missing for five days and we thought something terrible had happened. Then yesterday we spotted him together with a little female and her brother. Kaspar was smarming all over her, completely ignored us and is busy making little Kaspars. His new life formula is SEX > TLC + FOOD! But that`s what its all about, isn`t it? But we shall all miss him. Kirri is moping and it breaks my heart to see her sitting at her sleeping burrow until its almost dark waiting for Kaspar to turn up. She`s getting extra TLC and I hope she gets over it soon. Being a female meerkat is not easy!

3 June 2013 – STOP PRESS ON THE KASPAR STORY: 2.30 P.M. Mad scratching at my door. In comes Kaspar and bites my outstretched hand viciously (first bite EVER). Demands food. Opens and slams the kitchen cupboards. Gobbles his food, marks the room and leaves. Marks all his marking spots around the house. Heads off into the riverbed where his little group is waiting. Even leads them in a war-dance towards Andre and myself. Kirri is hiding during all this. Its only been a week and he`s changed from a friendly, happy little member of our family into a wild animal. What am I saying?? I mustn`t forget, he was ALWAYS a wild animal! I`m happy for him, as long as he doesn`t think I`m just a fast food joint open for terrorist attacks. I watched him with his little group – he`s definitely the boss! So little Kaspars are expected sometime! Its Kirri I`m most sorry for but she`s still got Cheeky and us to interact with.

4 June 2013 – KASPAR`S RAIDERS BACK AGAIN! 9.30 a.m. Kaspar leads his attack group to raid Kirri`s sleeping burrows. Chases the Yellow mongooses very aggressively all over the place. Kirri flees to me for protection. Kaspar and cohort trash the burrows, scratching up clouds of sand before leaving after about an hour. If this carries on …. My nerves! My nerves! (we`ll have to take up Judith`s suggestion and carry Kirri in a backpack – but she won`t stay in there, silly thing!)

Its an “in group” – “out group” thing. He now has his own little group and considers us and Kirri as a rival one. All old bonds are dissolved and new ones created with his pals. Since he was raised around the guesthouse, he also considers it part of his territory and is trying to chase away the “out group” members – us! He has a hope! I agree with you Lucille but you have to see it from his point of view. He`s achieved breeding status and this has gone to his head. That`s more than 80% of the meerkats in the wild ever do.

 

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5 June 2013 – FIRST PHOTOS OF KASPAR`S RAIDERS! Andre – our “on the spot” reporter, took this today. Who wouldn`t recognise the handsome (but rather pudgy) chappie on the left? Good luck to him!

 

8 June 2013 – TERRORIST ATTACKS NOW ALMOST DAILY! Kaspar in full “war-dance” mode (super photo by Fred Thompson) keeps Kirri and us on our toes. He and his little group are determined to chase her away and look very threatening. I can`t help but feel sorry for him, although he is being such a beast. He`s only trying to reclaim the places he has known all his life for his new family (who are a bit confused with all these goings-on).

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12 June 2013 – WHAT KASPAR LEFT HOME FOR! Introducing his new group – his lady friend Delilah (the temptress, seated right) and little Gollum on the left (not sure of this one`s sex yet). They are round the house almost every day and becoming quite tame, which is amazing. Kirri is absolutely furious, threat-scratching, marking and lunging at them. It seems that she and Kaspar are now bitter enemies. We`ll have to see how the situation develops!

 

13 June 2013 – LITTLE CHEEKY DOESN`T UNDERSTAND WHAT`S GOING ON! She tries to join her old pal Kaspar on his visits here but he and Delilah chase her away. She`s learned now not to get involved in “meerkat threat matches”. She and Kirri have become great pals and hang out together most of the day and sleep together in the same burrow at night. Thanks Fred for this cute photo. They use the same burrow system but usually when a group of meerkats moves in, the Yellow mongooses move out until the meerkats have left again. I`ve had other meerkat babies that have played with Yellow mongoose babies but none have been as intense as the relationship between Kirri and Cheeky. Probably because Cheeky is an only pup,very playful and has no playmates its own age.

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17 June 2013 – RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL SON! After two weeks absence, interspersed with terrorist attacks, Kaspar returns home very thin, very subdued and VERY hungry. No sign of Delilah or Gollum. He hangs around for a few hours, marks everything in sight, is properly submissive to Kirri`s threats and then vanishes again. Who knows what`s going on here?

 

Well, SOMETHING has happened! He took off back to where he`d been seen earlier that day with Delilah and Gollum, so maybe he`s joined up with them again. We`ll have to keep a lookout. Poor chap, he`s finding it a bit hard going to be a `wild` meerkat. I know I shouldn`t feed him but he looked so thin and pathetic. Not my old Kaspar at all.

18 June 2013 – KASPAR SIGHTED EARLY THIS MORNING BACK WITH DELILAH AND GOLLUM! So it was only cupboard love after all!

 

23 June 2013 – STRANGE PLAYFELLOWS! With both Kirri and Cheeky the Yellow mongoose now `loners`, they have no one to play with but each other. Its very funny to watch because their play styles are so different. Imagine a bout between an all-in wrestler (Kirri) and a karate expert (Cheeky) and you`ll get the idea. Hilarious!

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27 June 2013 – We are doing our best to support Kirri against her brother`s attack group. Here she is with her two new group members. They are big enough to be intimidating but sadly, not much use when it comes to chasing and attacking intruders. But then, you can`t have everything!

She`s in “solar panel” pose. Somehow they flatten their bodies out sideways (we won`t say anything about the diet but she`s not THAT fat!)

 

14 July – A TOTALLY TRAUMATISED KIRRI! Yesterday Kirri was very needy, demanding lots of TLC from babysitter Andre. Kaspar & Co. had invaded her territory and marked everything in sight without us knowing. She had a fit! Everything was re-marked and rugs and blankets `shaken to death`. Lots of threat-scratching, followed by cuddles and grooming, before she calmed down again. I suppose it`s the meerkat equivalent of coming home and finding out you`ve been robbed!

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20 July 2013 – WHAT`S GOING ON HERE??? Kaspar & Kirri are getting us all confused! He rocks up 2 days ago, quite relaxed and friendly and Kirri doesn`t go for him but just lounges around rather demonstratively in front of him. No fireworks but no Delilah & Gollum either. The usual plea for food and then he`s off again. It seems as if he`s only aggressive when his family is with him. Yes, we are now definitely a “Meerkat Fast Food Joint”! We`re thinking of putting a big yellow “double M” at our entrance for “Meerkat McDonalds” – but we`ll give them better food than they`ll get at the usual yellow “M”.LOL!

 

29 July 2013 – SHAME! ANDRE`S COMPUTER WAS HACKED YESTERDAY! (But we didn`t have to look far for the culprit)

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9 August 2013 – KASPAR AND A WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE. Our grown-up boy came visiting again today. This time no fast food, no greeting, just threats until he and his new family moved off once more. We can`t help remembering how it was a year and a half ago, with this tiny,so-dependent baby dogging our footsteps. Then a few months ago came his quasi-independence, sort of hovering between wildness and domesticity. Now he has made his choice and has become a truly wild meerkat. Sad for us but this is where he belongs – in the wild.

Kirri hangs out now with Cheeky and the other Yellow mongooses. Still demands TLC from us (and food) but is getting more independent. She is terrified of other meerkats and hides (we don`t know where) until they go. Then she freaks out covering their marks on HER marking posts and threat digging all the places they urinated on. I don`t hold out much hope of her joining a group – maybe one day a “Prince Charming” will come along, like he did for Poppet.

 

20 August 2013 – A SPECIAL FOR ALL KIRRI FANS! Our little lady posing sweetly after having scratched out the pot plants and made a thorough nuisance of herself all day. We`re thinking of auctioning her off to one of these demolition firms. She could do any job cheaply and thoroughly and is also eco-friendly since she runs on bio-fuel (chicken preferably).

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11 September 2013 – JILTED!! The newest episode of the Kalahari Dallas programme! Kirri is back again after a stormy “on-again/off-again” 5-day affair with her little Romeo. We think he was too afraid of us to keep up the relationship. Mixed in with all this were 2 wild ones that chased both of them all over the place, so we don`t know exactly what was going on. Kirri is now staying close to home and hanging out with her Yellow mongoose pals again. Let`s hope she didn`t get pregnant! Another Kalahari unwed mother!!!

I think this was a case of “Wham, Bang – Thank you Ma`am” – rather typical male behaviour, especially for meerkats! Poor Kirri. Give it another 8 – 9 weeks and we will know for sure. I am not looking forward to being a meerkat babysitter.Its extremely stressful!

 

16 September 2013 – KIRRI OUR TV STAR! Those of you who happened to be watching SABC 2`s 6 o`clock news last night would have seen Kirri and Cheeky`s debuts as TV stars. A nice little story about meerkat and yellow mongoose friends to round off the evening`s newsreel. Many thanks to the SABC crew who came and filmed her, Cheeky, Andre and myself. If all goes well, we may have a youtube film of the interview to post here soon!

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2 October – Kirri strikes back – After five days of “The Marauders” moving in and occupying her sleeping burrows, with regular attacks by their dominant female, Kirri finally has enough!! (even we were surprised) She was thoroughly fed up with being chased away from HER burrow. These are The Marauders that have been hanging round here even when Kaspar was still here. I think that Kirri has taught their dominant female a lesson at long last!

 

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“This time I`m going to get her”!

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The dominant female giving the panicky “cackling call” with Kirri latched on to her lower jaw.

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When meerkats bite, they don`t let go.

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Who said we were cute and cuddly creatures??

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The dominant female trying to get loose. But Kirri isn`t going to let her go so easily!

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Kirri chased her off into the riverbed. She hadn`t rejoined her rather confused group by the next morning. The Victor!! (And most of this blood isn`t mine).

 

20 October 2013 – ROMEO`S RETURN(S) Kirri`s little boyfriend, now dubbed “Romeo”, seems to turn up about every 3 weeks or so. A quick cuddle, a grooming session and then he`s off again. He obviously can`t understand why his voluptuous girlfriend hangs out with giant two-legged predators. Kirri protests if he tries to get sexy with her and although she`ll go foraging with him for a few hours, she always comes back. Poor Romeo, he`s really a bit of a mess; covered in scars and scared of his own shadow. Judging by this, its tough being a solitary male!

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24 October 2013 – STRANGE BUT DELIGHTFUL PLAYFELLOWS! We must thank Anna Green for this super photo of Kirri and Cheeky playing. Both are `laughing` – the mongoose gape-mouthed `play face`. We don`t see much of little Cheeky any more, she`s a grown up mongoose now and doesn`t have time to hang out with her old pals. But when she and Kirri meet, they still friends and groom each other. Sadly, now both are adults, play is a thing of the past. Kaspar is off somewhere with Delilah and Gollum. We haven`t seen him for over a month. I hope he`s still OK. He`s almost certainly a father by now and is probably busy babysitting.

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29 October 2013 – OH NO, ROMEO – SEE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE! The signs are all there – our little Kirri is pregnant (very). No wonder she rebuffed Romeo`s advances on his last visit, he`d already caught her! As we predicted, another Kalahari unwed mother! Poor her and poor us. We`ll keep you posted.

 

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8 November 2013 – POOR KIRRI – READY TO POP! Any woman who has had children just HAS to sympathise with her. The only position in which she seems to be comfortable is stretched out like this on her back. Any day now, we expect her to give birth and then the fun?? starts. Romeo arrives every now and again for a quick visit, but we can see he`s not going to be much help. We`ll keep you posted.

12 November 2013 – FINALLY!!! Yesterday evening, Kirri moved house to the “Lapa burrows”, cleaned one of them out and then disappeared underground. No sign of her this morning, so she probably gave birth last night. For our German fans, these must be “Faschingskinder” born on 11.11! Now its `nail-biting` time for Andre and I until she emerges in about 4 – 5 days time, looking for food. Then 3+ weeks until we have our first sight of the pups. Oh boy!! Talk about stress!

 

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15 November 2013 – SORRY FOLKS – WE JUMPED THE GUN! Instead of having her babies 3 days ago, Lady Kirri had gone off with her Yellow mongoose pals foraging instead. We are all still waiting, her especially. She`s a real picture of “Misery” outside what, we hope, is going to be the birth burrow. Taking her to bed at night is getting quite a struggle for us all. Really, it must be any day now.

 

18 November 2013 – MEET A MEERKAT PYRAMID – Kirri at the `birth burrow`. Her pregnancy is now so far advanced that she looks triangular. If you put your hand lightly against her tummy, you can feel little feet pushing around in there. We reckon at least 6 but whether all survive is another question. Romeo, the scrawny little creature, was back for a flying visit today. Despite him being so small and weedy-looking, one can definitely say he`s potent!!

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23 November 2013 – “ROMEO O ROMEO! WHEREFORE ART THOU ROMEO? (with apologies to the Bard). Birth seems imminent any day now and, typically, the man in her life is not around. I somehow can`t visualise Andre trying to wriggle into her burrow to babysit! The mother doesn`t do much except suckle them. Raising them is done by babysitters and the father. Only poor Kirri has no one except Andre and myself and we can`t help all that much. Its heartbreaking seeing her sitting at her burrow entrance until dark but she doesn`t want to stay with Andre or myself in our “burrows”.

 

26 November 2013 – I spoke too soon about “sharing burrows”. Last night we had a spectacular thunderstorm (only 9mm rain – but RAIN anyway). Kirri turns up at my place after dark and a rather disturbed and smelly night was had by both of us. I hope she doesn`t make this a habit!

29 November 2013 – Many thanks to Anena Burger for what is, probably, the last photo taken of our very pregnant Kirri. Her babies were born during the night of November 27th. The only problem is WE DON`T KNOW WHERE!! All day she was restless, tried walking off into the veldt by herself (we brought her back), wouldn`t eat and then, just before nightfall, she vanished into the veldt again. We tried to find her but without success. No sign of her yesterday or this morning. So the nerve-wracking waiting to find out what happened goes on……

1 December 2013 – KIRRI UPDATE: DAY 4 and still no sign of her. Good news in a way because it means her babies are OK and she`s staying with them.

2 December 2013 – KIRRI UPDATE: DAY 5 and still waiting. Thanks to the howling dust storm that hit us yesterday afternoon and continued until nightfall, the chances of her coming back then were zero. Poppet, one of my earlier meerkats, came back on the afternoon of the 5th day after she`d had her babies, so maybe today`s the day!

4 December 2013 – KASPAR IS A DADDY !!!!! After a 2 month absence Kaspar was sighted today about 2 km from the guesthouse with 4!! bouncing babies running between him and Delilah! Its unlikely that the two of them will be able to raise all the pups, there are not enough `helpers`. Gollum seems to have disappeared. So Kaspar made it in the `genes stakes`. Good on you boy!

KIRRI UPDATE: DAY 7. There was no sign of her again yesterday. Poppet was back for food after 5 days but she had her babies in the burrow next to my house and Kirri is far away, somewhere in the bundu. I`m planning to go looking for her today. I`m very worried.

5 December 2013 – KIRRI UPDATE; DAY 8. Again nothing. I searched the whole area behind the guesthouse, where she was last seen to be heading. Lots of burrows and burrow systems but no meerkat spoor. Found the Yellow mongoose den and an active ground squirrel burrow but nothing else. At last light last night, saw a mongoose sitting behind the house. Called “Kirri-kirri, come, come” and it galloped towards me. Elated, I rushed into my house to get food for my missing baby, who must be starving by now. Big disappointment – it was Little Greedy that stuck his head through the door. Wrong mongoose! (He got some food anyway). There is a faint chance that she may have been joined by Romeo. I found tracks of a single mongoose a few days ago not far from where she was headed. Absolutely NO chance of her joining Kaspar. Delilah would probably beat her up and kill her babies if she found her.

6 December 2013 – KIRRI UPDATE: DAY 9. Getting very worrying. Again nothing. She`s had nothing to eat except the afterbirths for more than a week now. I can`t believe that, with her appetite, she`s not hungry. Still looking and calling but nothing comes except the Yellow mongooses. Of all things, Cheeky, who we thought was lost, turned up yesterday evening. She`s obviously moved from her original clan into another one further away. Very nervous but, as ever, hungry so, as ever, was fed.

8 December 2013 – KIRRI UPDATE: DAY 10. Again no sign of her. I am now getting really worried that something has happened to her. She was so slow and ungainly when she left, easy prey for a raptor. Why the silly little thing had to go and have her babies somewhere far from our protection and where she had never been before, I still don`t understand.

But YIPPEE!!! Another 9mm of rain last night, soft and soaking in, instead of the usual violent thunderstorms, where the water just runs off. Lets pray that these rains continue to let the veldt regenerate.

9 December 2013 – At least the rain will have driven the grubs to the surface so food will not be so hard for her to find. I watch out and call for her every evening but all I get is a gang of expectant Yellow mongooses round my feet.

11 December 2013 – KIRRI`S BACK!!! (Briefly) Kirri returned just after 11.00 this morning, a shadow of her former self, hip bones sticking out and you could more or less count her ribs. She ate like there was no tomorrow and then, thank goodness, asked for cuddles and grooming. So different from my earlier pregnant meerkat, Poppet, who took chunks out of me when she returned. She stayed and slept a bit until about 2.15, then wanted to go back to her babies. I could not believe it! She`s had them in what looks to be an old springhare burrow nearly 1.5 km away. As far as I know, she`s never been in that part of the Nature reserve before. It was no fun tracking her in the broiling sun. She would go and snooze in the shade of a bush while I cooked! At least we know now where she is and can keep a lookout.

To try and answer some of your questions: We won`t see the babies for at least another 2 – 3 weeks. Their eyes should be opening about now. I`m hoping she`s going to come back here regularly for food, but its a rather dangerous hike, all that way and exposed to birds of prey. How she`s going to lead the babies here safely, I don`t know. We`ll just have to trust that everything will be OK. As far as I can tell from the suckling marks, she has 4 – 6 pups. Let`s hope they survive!

 

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12 December 2013 – KIRRI UPDATE: DAY 13. Kirri (aka Twiggy) was back at noon again today and literally stuffed herself with all kinds of meerkat goodies. She was very needy and demanded attention, then fell asleep. After a further snack, she decided to leave at about 4.00 and Andre followed her back to her birth burrow to make sure she was OK. She strikes both of us as being rather weak. After a 12 day fast, birth AND nursing a bunch of pups, that`s not surprising!

 

15 December 2013 – ANOTHER MEERKAT ORPHAN RESCUE! The last few days we`ve had our hands full with another little orphan meerkat. One of the locals had it tied with a bit of string round its neck, ready to sell to tourists by the roadside. We found its babysitter hit by a car a bit further down the road. Its a little female about 2 1/2 months old. She is eating well but very shy. It will take time for her to settle down. The first 2 days she gave the ear-splitting `baby lost` yap non-stop. She hasn`t got a name yet (we are tending towards `Pip` as in `Pipsqueak`). Any suggestions from you meerkat fans? Photos to follow.

 

Kirri is now doing a regular commute: here by about lunchtime, eat until she can`t hold any more, have a snooze on a nice, cool tile floor, another meal and then back to the babies at about 5.00. Andre usually walks her there. She accepts the new little one but isn`t all that interested, except in its food, which she scoffs! She is looking MUCH better already. Almost her old self again but very thirsty.

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17 December 2013 – KIRRI & PIP BOTH DOING WELL (A bit TOO well)! From the general concensus of opinion we`re going to call the new arrival “Pip”, mainly because its easy to say. She`s slowly getting used to us and to being touched, its taking a lot of patience. Kirri is not at all maternal and even growls at Pip when she approaches her when she has FOOD. Kirri has REALLY put on weight again in the last week and is almost back to normal.

 

Pip is still rather traumatised after her experience. She dreams of running and then jerks violently and snaps over her shoulder – probably reliving her chase and capture. But she`s eating well and we hope she`ll calm down completely within the next few days. Its only about 2 weeks now and Kirri`s babies will be here as well. How Andre and I are going to cope with THAT, I really don`t know! She should have been just about weaned when her babysitter (NOT her mother, it was a male) was hit by a car and killed. I think a lot of her trying to suckle from Kirri is comfort rather than food. People don`t realise that meerkats, ESPECIALLY when they have young with them, don`t run off the road in front of a car but `freeze` instead. This usually results in them being killed unless the driver slows down to give them a chance to escape. I`ve seen so many killed on this new road to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park as a result of this.

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Fatty Kirri letting little Pip suckle just after she arrived. She was not allowed to do it the next day!

 

20 December 2013 – KIRRI`S BABY – FIRST PHOTO! (See also Video Post by Kalahari Trails) Yesterday way Meerkat Madness Day. Kirri arrived very early, all sticky on her back, then we found out it was Romeo that had been grooming her wetly and vigorously. She left at midday with him and the next thing we knew, she was back, absolutely exhausted, just before sunset with a baby in her mouth. She didn`t know what to do with it, carried it about and kept dropping it, mostly at Andre`s feet for him to babysit. We finally got her and baby into the house, got her fed and cooled down, then she, the baby and Pip all slept under the bed last night. From the suckling marks, she must have more than just this one in her litter and she left again early this morning, so we shall see!

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AND THEN THERE WERE THREE (See Video Post by Kalahari Trails) Kirri returned yesterday lunchtime with another baby in her mouth, utterly exhausted, poor thing. Later in the afternoon she wanted to go out again, so Chief Babysitter Andre carried her to the burrow so not to exhaust her further. Imagine his surprise to see Little Romeo in there, who had been taking care of the babies while Kirri was away! Then just before a storm hit in the late afternoon, Kirri was back yet again with another baby but, this time, was just too tired to do anything but collapse. She, the babies and Pip spent the night under my bed but she shows no further interest in going out. Maybe only 3 of her pups survived but they are fine and walking around already. Babysitter Andre is back again doing his main job!

 

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22 December – PIP – THE NINJA !! Yesterday, for the first time, little PIP managed to stand on tip-toe and looked, with her dark colouring, just like a little ninja! She practiced this assiduously. bouncing up and down like a Jack in the Box. Once she had the action down pat, she stopped, but it was funny to watch while it lasted. It looks as if practice makes perfect, even amongst meerkats.

 

PIP – THE MILK THIEF !! (See Video Post by Kalahari Trails) Poor Kirri. If it wasn`t enough to have to feed her own pups, she is also feeding Pip, the milk thief (doing it on the sly). She won`t let Pip suckle directly but Pip waits until the other babies are suckling and then sneaks in and latches on to a nipple. Once Kirri notices this she breaks it all up. Naughty little pup, she`s well past weaning age!

 

28 December 2013 – BABIES FIRST OUTING! Talk about cute! Kirri led her babies outside for the first time this morning. Despite the fact that there were no Yellow mongooses or birds of prey in sight, she acted rather nervous and was scanning all around, just in case. The babies stayed close to her – all except Pip. Ten minutes was enough, then she took them back inside to safety.

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Re Romeo – no sign of him, thank goodness! He`s so shy he`d have the babies running after him and then they`d get lost. Pip is bad enough, still nervous, but not as bad as Romeo would be.

 

Pip is more than adopted! Her milk thievery has become rampant and the weakest of the 3 babies is having a hard time. We try to keep her away but its like iron filings and a magnet.

 

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29 December 2013 – ANNOUNCING OUR “KALAHARI CUTIE CONTEST”! and the Winner is …….???? Its a little boy and we`re looking for names. Any suggestions??

 

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31 December 2013 – NOW WE HAVE 2 LITTLE GIRLS TO FIND NAMES FOR! They have distinct personalities. One is larger than the other and quite rambunctious, very playful and tends to throw her weight around. She is not all that friendly and has recently started beating up on Pip and about time too! The other is the little runt of the litter, the first baby that Kirri brought home and half dead when it arrived. She seems to be a couple of developmental days behind the other two, gets left behind and must be rescued but is really a sweet and friendly little creature.
So any suggestions?

 

And so the end of another year and the saga continues…

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