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  Field Notes From
Meerkats



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On Assignment
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From Author

Tim Clutton-Brock



On Assignment

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From Photographer

Mattias Klum



In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Mattias Klum (top), and Lars-Magnus Ejdeholm
 

On Assignment On Assignment On Assignment
Meerkats

Field Notes From Author
Tim Clutton-Brock
Best Worst Quirkiest

Two years ago the price of land crashed to something like 15 dollars an acre, and soon we realized that it was feasible to buy the Kuruman River study site in South Africa. That would help us avoid any possibility of being thrown out. We raised the money and drew up a trust. Now we can manage the grounds and continue our research on Kalahari animals. It was the best possible thing for us.



In the early days of working in what is now Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, we had nearly two years without any rain. The whole place turned into a dry dusty desert. The animals died one by one. Of the 11 groups we habituated, only four survived.



We spent a long time trying to find out what food would attract meerkats so that we could get them on the scales to weigh them. We tried chocolate, mealworms, locusts, raw eggs. We even tried breaking eggs on their heads so they would lick them off, but nothing seemed to work. One hot day when we tried to feed them, the eggs got on the side of the burrow and began to cook in the sun. When our group came back, the young meerkats were eating the egg whites. It seemed they preferred their eggs cooked.





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