Whiskers came into existence in 1998, with four Young Ones females and two Lazuli rovers – reinforced with a wild meerkat who had been brought to us (instead of the potjie) from Van Zylsrus. Change came with a rover party of Vivian origin in 2001 who immigrated into Whiskers, with the brothers Yossarian and Zaphod taking turns in male dominance. In early 2002, Flower took over female dominance and ruled Whiskers since then. She succumbed to a snake bite in January 2007, and her daughter Rocket Dog rose to power. After her death Ella established dominance; she was soon joined by Thundercat, a single Lazuli rover. The group slowly recovered from low numbers, growing to 30 members, all of which were Ella’s offspring. In 2011 Whiskers saw dominance squabbles, and Enili rose as the dominant female; Ella and four other evictees dispersed but were later found again far to the East, named the Queens, with two wild males. Dominant male Thundercat disappeared in 2012, leading to a series of natal males of which Marxxs had the longest tenure. None of the females was able to raise a litter in the 2013 drought season, and several subordinates dispersed, decreasing the numbers further down to 8. May 2013 saw the immigration of four unrelated males, formerly of the Cave Men group, but three of them of Lazuli origin. Snowy assumed male dominance; he was later replaced by Rufio. In September 2013, Enili was run over; she had only raised one pup to adulthood, during her tenure. The remaining two females, Swift and Pe’ahi, were barely six months old when they inherited the six-strong group; they job-shared dominance for several months until Pe’ahi finally took the prime seat. Swift and Pe’ahi gave birth to one litter each, but the group only succeeded in bringing one male pup K-Quob through. In October 2014, male dominance shifted to Brea, and Snowy left for good – a change that actually calmed the group down, and maybe helped raise Pe’ahi’s litter of which two females survived. The group had finally started to get a grip again when Pe’ahi was predated in September 2015, just after giving birth. The males resumed roving, and Pet was even briefly dominant at a very short-lived Ewoks subgroup. Newly dominant Swift gave birth – to the only pup that emerged during months of a severe drought in the entire population! – yet it did not survive. In February 2016, the group seemed to win a new member, with immigrating ex-Axolotls female Bearbatter, yet she soon left again, taking the young female Jedila with her. The group currently consists of four individuals, who are in good shape, but not actively breeding.
In the past years Whiskers usually stayed around the Rus en Vrede farm house, but have recently moved south, to the former Toyota and Frisky territories. Their main neighbors now are Jaxx and Ewoks.
Whiskers are our world-famous movie stars, with “their” Meerkat Manor series in four seasons between 2005 and 2008, and a full-length movie “Meerkat Manor: The Story Begins” that is available on DVD. In May 2012 they also featured in Planet Earth Live, on BBC1 – when snake-bitten but recovering Ernesto almost stole Swift the focus pup’s show…
The Whiskers are available as a Friends group.