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.