|Join our meerkats with Earthwatch!
Visit the real Meerkat Manor with an Earthwatch expedition, and get to know these highly cooperative and charming small mammals!
Cooperative breeding, in which animals help others raise their young, occurs in many animal species. It appears to be common in the Kalahari Desert, where extreme conditions have molded cooperative breeding in meerkats, those inimitable relatives of mongooses that stand upright to peer across the landscape. The traditional explanation for this behavior is that related animals benefit by having shared genes passed on in the young that they help nurture. However, work by Professor Tim Clutton-Brock (University of Cambridge) and Professor Marta Manser (University of Zurich), suggests that immediate selfish reasons stimulate cooperative breeding. By joining an Earthwatch expedition to the Kalahari Meerkat Project, you can assist to examine how environment and evolution shape cooperative behavior, get involved in both our biodiversity and conservation work and our initiatives in community development.
On the Expedition
Under the direction of your experienced field team assistants, you will help observe six habituated colonies of meerkats in this 25-square-kilometer reserve. You'll learn the techniques of radiotracking and focal sampling, GPS referencing, as well as how to weigh meerkats. This data will help evaluate how cooperative breeding affects the survival of both pups and helpers. You will also investigate interactions between the meerkats and a kleptoparasitic bird species, the forktailed drongo. Supplementing the meerkat studies, you'll help conduct biodiversity, invertebrates, and plant surveys and spend some time recording the size and activity of social bird colonies, like pied babblers and weavers, in response to rainfall levels. You'll also help outreach efforts to assist the local community primary school—all this against a backdrop of gemsbok, hartebeest, springbok, duiker, steenbok, bat-eared foxes, three kinds of mongooses, many birds, and the fantastic creatures of the Kalahari night.
For further details of joining an Earthwatch expedition to the Kalahari Meerkat Project please follow the links below.
As a confirmed Earthwatch participant on this expedition you can register as a Friend of the Kalahari Meerkat Project, receiving much more background information. Please click here to register.
For more information, see the following sections:
What type of work will you do during the Earthwatch expedition?
General info on Kuruman River Reserve and the project
Earthwatch site (more information and registration)
Earthwatch expedition briefing
pangolin.li diary of the Meerkat expedition
Last update: 13:37 19/07 2016