Images by Phil... and June
Meerkat Encounter in Botswana
by June's Views on October 3rd, 2013

I was awakened at 6:30 am to a temperature of 40 degrees  in my tent at Jack’s  Camp in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana.  One of the great staff people at Jack’s had brought steaming coffee to help me breach the distance from my warm bed to my safari clothes.   It’s COLD!  Just grin and bear it.  Shortly we leave camp for a visit with a small group of Meerkats.  I had fallen in love with these little mammals after watching thier antics on Animal Planet’s Meerkat Manor.  Not related to felines at all, they belong to the mongoose family.  I was so excited to be able to possibly interact with them myself. 

Meerkat groups change locations from day to day, and staff had gone out earlier to locate the family so we could go directly to them.  When we pulled up, the staffer was laying on his side with the “family” standing next to him, on their two back legs and tail, warming themselves in the sun. 
I almost lost it then, just looking at the cute tiny creatures.  We got out of the land rover and approached slowly.  We knew after a night’s sleep in one of their many tunnels in the cold Kalahari, meerkats needed to warm up before they began foraging for the day.  We approached the little clan slowly and sat down.  They are about 12 inches tall and make a tasty meal for hawks and other hunters, so they are constantly on the lookout for predators wanting to swoop down and snatch them up.  They will use any means available to them to get as high off the ground as possible to better scan the sky above and the desert around them.

We sat down near them.  At first they were indifferent to us, but soon the small creatures began to show interest in our legs.   

 Bones, one of our guides, told me to lay on my side.  When I did, immediately several of the tiny animals began to approach and without much hesitation one decided I would make a good place to look for danger. 

We’d been told in advance that the meerkats might decide to “mark” us with their urine and to be safe we should wear a covering on our heads.  I took that suggestion seriously and wore my floppy hat.  

Laying very still, we checked each other out and after his exam, he proceeded to climb up to my  shoulder. 

I wasn’t ready to wipe meerkat pee off my face, even for the unique experience of having one of them on my head.  

I really LOVE  this pictures Bones took for me.    

After they had warmed up sufficiently, the little family left us and tore off to begin the day’s job of searching for grubs, scorpions, and various other bugs. 

We followed them for a bit, but for all of the attention they’d given us earlier, they now completely ignored us.  The fun I had that morning is a great memory!

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