Zurich, November 23rd, 2016
Dear Friends, dear website visitors
On November 23rd, 2006, the kalahari-meerkats.com website went live – so today, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Friends of the Kalahari Meerkat Project (FKMP)!
Back then, meerkat lovers out there finally found a place to come to for first-hand official information about the meerkats many of you met in „Meerkat Manor“: Flower and her wayward daughters Mozart and „Tosca“, caring Mitch and valiant Shakespeare, sneaky Youssarian – and Commandos the neighbors from Hell (who soon turned out to be Vivian rather than Commandos…)
„Friends“ numbers surged in the years of „Meerkat Manor“, yet there’s still a group of dedicated Friends here who joined 10 years ago and remain faithful to their favourite meerkats. Still today, new Friends often select Whiskers as their first Friends group. But many of you not only joined our Friends Burrow (or the real KMP field site in South Africa, on a Friends visit) because of the meerkat info you got, but also to support the KMP with funds for meerkat research. It fills me with pride that we were able to support Stuart Patterson’s PhD study on meerkat TB with Friends funds; he’s in the last months of his project, with promising results. Meanwhile, the Friends Visits contributed towards the operation of the field site – very much appreciated by the KMP team.
To me personally the FKMP has always played several roles: First of all the FKMP was something that Friends and website visitors loved – and were often very thankful for. It sated my inquisitive mind since I had the privilege to access loads of raw LH and observational data I could crunch to create content for the Friends or the public website. My work for the FKMP was also a way for me to stay connected with the biology research world I had quit years ago in my professional life. I must have spent thousands of hours for this, my labour of love – and my demanding job and more recently my own two feisty pups haven’t made it easy, at times, to dedicate as much time to the FKMP as I wanted – yet I cherished that time tremendously, and hope to do so for much longer.
First of all I would like to thank Prof. Tim Clutton-Brock and Prof. Marta Manser for their support over these 10 years; it is still not common in the research community to openly share information with the general public, but I always felt their support and trust, and I’m very grateful for their friendship. Furthermore, my thanks go out to the approx. 150 research volunteers who collected data during the past 10 years and the Life History volunteers and Project Managers working with me to get the LH reports, photos and more recently The Meerkatter ready for you.
All of this would not have been possible without a very dedicated group of volunteers in the FKMP team, above all our dear Pronker. Dominant female at „Mel’s Mob“ which evolved as a first inofficial Meerkat Manor related web community in 2005, she helped shape the FKMP before it went live, and ever since. Her vast knowledge of meerkat life histories and her eye for details combined with her dedication in administrative stuff have helped tremendously with the day-to-day operation of the FKMP. But also „meerkatbaby“ Jeanette, Cheryl, Holly and Holly supported the FKMP with valuable skills and their enthusiasm for all things meerkat. My heartfelt Thank you to the entire FKMP team of volunteers! Last but not least I would like to thank all Friends for their continued support – you are the reason why the FKMP became reality, and why the FKMP has been here for 10 years!
Many of you first came here for background on Whiskers, yet you found much more: there were other meerkat groups with similarly intriguing life histories, and much more to learn about the meerkats and their Kalahari home. Over the past 10 years, the KMP meerkat population went through each high and low Mother Nature has on offer – and we with them. The KMP meerkat population? The name list spanning this period counts 3094 individuals; a few out of these 3094 meerkats became world famous, while memories of others are lost in the Kalahari sand…
To celebrate the FKMP anniversary, let me share two gifts with you.
One is the above picture with a collage of 80 of the most well-known KMP meerkats; it is available as a poster in our FKMP Store, ready to be shipped in the size you choose (it will scale from letter size to an enormous poster of 56” by 40”). By ordering it via our FKMP Store, you will also support the KMP with 15% of the poster price. However, the poster is also available for download in a smaller format, for everyone to self-print.
The other gift is simply the name list spanning these 10 years…
Click here to download the list.
I hope both the poster and the name list bring back a lot of good memories for you too!
President of the Friends of the Kalahari Meerkat Project