Nature Stories: Ostriches, BMW, Wild and Free meerkats and international guests!
Submitted on Wednesday, February 16 @ 01:58:08 SAST by Grant Join the Wild and Free Meerkat / Suricate Conservation Cause with The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project in The Meerkat Magic Valley Reserve and make a real difference to conservation of them and their natural habitat.
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(Please do note that the use of anthropomorphic statements (human characterisitcs attributed to animals) is deliberate for this article, and is of course meant to be non-scientific for this rendition of a Sunrise Tour story from the past).
Tickling, caressing weaves of gold creep creep slowly towards where I stand in The Meerkat Magic Valley of The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project Oudtshoorn Western Cape South Africa, it is 5 am in the morning outside one of the many sleeping burrows in the over 11 kilometre home range of Wild and Free meerkat / suricate Group: Ungulungu, and I am giving a morning Sunrise Tour to our special Meerkat Conservation Friendly guests from Britain and Germany, who are sitting expectantly and quietly motionless on some meerkat / sruciate scent marked garden chairs nearby...
Before the first "weather forecaster" meerkat / suricate head pops up to have a look around and decide if it is even worth waking up, a very strange two legged primitive reptile like creature begins to emerge from some karoo gwari bushes (Euclea undulata) to the west.
Slowly, but very assuredly, this bizarre creature of myth meanders towards the five humans in The Meerkat Magic Valley Reserve- the only humans on the planet out of Billions who will be experiencing the magic of watching Wild and Free meerkats / suricates of this subspecies in nature at The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project in The Meerkat Magic Valley Reserve, in Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape of South Africa, part of a world heritage site and one of the worlds 17 hotspots!
Kluck, clup, clip, clop...what is that strange sound, resonating from all around, I sense the unspoken question from the guests?
As the esoteric form emerges from the inky blackness of the west, and the early sunshine sparkles warmly on its lovely long lashed eyes, the rapidly opening and closing beaked creature marches onwards, beak clapping excitedly!
Initially I see the fear cross a visitors face...that...that creature, the largest flightless bird in the world, is coming steadily closer to where we sit!
Soon, curiosity and amusement resonate, as guests watch the outlandish antics of this, at the time, yet to be named tame and very inquisitve and friendly female ostrich, now humorously named Tullulah by a subsequent guest and project supporter on a Sunrise Tour (Kimberly Fitzgerald from Dublin, Ireland).
Tullulah, is absolutely and incurably infatuated with the old mud covered mobile hide BMW often called The Meerkat Magic Mobile of The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project, and each day for the last few years she has approached and displayed hopefully trying to impress this nonchalant cream coloured container.
Truly, this must be unrequited love...Even ostriches appear to be impressed with BMW! My old 3.18i is clearly more impressive then the testosterone overloaded primitive male ostriches running around in the distance!
Before much longer on this particular day, Tullulah with her excited wing flapping, and beak clapping attracts all her accomplices, who rapidly descend and each try to out compete with the other flirting females to impress the stationary hide.
This hide has become very valuable as a Wild and Free meerkat spotting vehicle, scent marked every few weeks by these meerkats, and is the only car in the area that any wild animals tolerate anywhere near them, after having seen it for so many countless thousands of hours, pricelss in fact to The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project.
After repeated attempts to impress this involuntary object, a new target is chosen...my passive habituation aids, or the dummies used as human like props to represent members of the recent Discovery Channel film crew, who filmed with me and my wild meerkat conservation and research project...
One, then the next, Velociraptor-esque, dinosaur-esque ostriches, led by Tullulah approach the dummies, and begin, much to my huge irritation to dismantle all my efforts, through their apparent frustation!
The dummies are all propped full of dead weeds that I removed from the area as a micro conservation effort to stuff these props with, and the plastic bag heads are all bio- degradable, and had faces on them...until now that is...sigh. If you ever want to see how they started out pick up a copy of our international film - Meerkat Adventure (THIS NAME HAS SUBSEQUENTLY BEEN USED AND HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE MEERKAT MAGIC CONSERVATION PROJECT ALTHOUGH IT WAS A NAME GIVEN TO A FILM FEATURING THE MEERKAT MAGIC CONSERVATION PROJECT AND GRANT M. MC ILRATH - A.K.A- THE MEERKAT MAN) with myself and Nigel Marvin as the presenter with Discovery Channel.
The other females gradually loose interest and move on with their curious lives. All except for Tullulah who is as loyal as a dog, and remains behind to offer encouragement to my factual live wild meerkat documentary guest brainwashing rendition of the thousands of interesting facts about wild meerkats / suricates and this project, the only Conservation Project on wild and free meerkats in the world!
Tullulah moves around to inspect the guests, but she is of course completely harmless. Eventually the Wild and Free Meerkat Group: Ungulungu have all emerged and are stretching their solar panel bellies to the sunlight.
Not to be left out, Tullulah walks past the center of attention, Rafiki the dominant male of Wild and Free Meerkat Group: Ungulungu and he looks on seemilngly oblivious to her transient presence, as his full attention is commanded by the all powerfull orb that mesmerises his, and every other wild meerkats attention like a vast molten meerkat magnet! It is not by chance that I often refer to wild and free meerkats as the solar panels of nature and they frequently stare at the sun with their inbuilt nature's sunglasses while warming their sparesely haired bellies.
After sufficiently stretching and sun basking, the miraculous and fascinating lives of this study group of wild and free meerkats, begins anew. I (Grant M. Mc Ilrath- The Meerkat Man and The Ostrich Man), never grow tired of observing wild meerkats, even after researching them full time in the field since 1993 and still going.
Each day brings new excitement, and on this day, the BMW - The Meerkat Magic Mobile a trusted object to the wildlife here in The Meerkat Magic Valley Reserve, and even though it is incredibly rare for these animals to accept such a large at first alien to them object, it is apparently equally impressive to the meerkats, and not just for Tullulah, and it would clearly seem that...
Even Wild and Free meerkats / suricates from Ungulungu group in The Meerkat Magic Valley Reserve have accepted my BMW 3.18i and have scent marked it with their unique scent and what I refer to as a meerkat stamp of approval!
Total objectivity is required when collecting data on wildlife in my research and conservation work however, and through the specialist unique in the world Neuro Linguistic Programming Habituation Techniques / highly selective tolerance based on some cognitive psychology principles of positive and negative associative learning that The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project uses, animals learn to accept certain audio, visual and olfactory codes, and treat observers as mere objects that they have learned to trust after many years of patiently introducing these associations to them and other wildlife in the areas that The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project works in.
It is indeed easy to tame meerkats by feeding them and handling them as many have done, and it is very challenging to keep wild animals wild, and The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project manages to keep wild meerkats wild, like no other place on earth for very close observation that is ethical, and this requires many years of dedicated patience and perseverance to achieve!
Sadly the general public often do not recognise the difference between tame free roaming fed and handled manipulated, experimented on, captured, marked wildlife and truly Wild and Free, unhandled, uncaptured, unmarked, unfed and unprovisioned wildlife as is the case with The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project which has very strict ethical guidelines as to how research methodology and conservation practices are implemented in daily fieldwork since 1993 and ongoing.
And now for the first time in the world since February 2004 guests can enjoy this experience as if they spent all the time achieving this trust themselves over the years. I subscribe to the philosophy of Conservation Through Education (The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project interprets and applies this as: striving to create a greater awareness, leading to a better understanding and growing appreciation and ultimately a self motivated implementation of a sustainable ethical conservation philosophy and practice) and open source research (not restricted for a select few scientists or hoarded in scientific publications packed with scientific jargon which is largely never read by the general public) for all to enjoy, and not only for a select few researchers.
No animals are ever fed or provisioned, never captured, never experimented on, never marked or fitted with radio collars / telemetry here at The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project around Oudtshoorn Western Cape South Africa, and by not feeding or handling these Wild and Free animals at The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project and by not interferring with their natural lives, they can be ethically observed and no dependancy is ever created towards the researcher or attending observers.
Should the highly selective trust given to the habituation codes be missing or absent, no observers would be able to see these animals at all! Tame animals frequently trust anybody, but ethically habituated and highly selective tolerance from wildlife here results in wildlife only trusting certain observers and those with them, and maintaining a highly selective distrust of anybody else - captive or tame meerkats are nothing like wild and free meerkats in their diet or behaviour or general appearance.
Grant M. Mc Ilrath: The Meerkat Man with Wild and Free uncaptured, unhandled, unfed, not experimented on, umarked meerkats / suricates from The Wild and Free Ungulungu group (photograph kind courtesy from Elizabeth O' Connell)
To join an exclusive in the world Sunrise or Sunset Tour and to learn about the fascinating lives and soap opera antics of some of the local "animalities" you can book your very own Sunrise or Sunset Tour, just press here.
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The Meerkat Man and Meerkat Mobile in BMW's International Film Series 2010 - BMW unscripted.
The Meerkat Magic Mobile - the ONLY BMW in the world to EVER be sniffed and scent marked as part of their territory by WILD and FREE meerkats - the true stamp of approval - even wildlife approves of BMW! The eco - green machine!
BMW chose our Meerkat Mobile to represent Africa whilst filming other BMW's around the world!
Best wishes to all our meerkat veterans who have driven in the Meerkat Mobile from Grant M. Mc Ilrath - A.K.A - The Meerkat Man.
WATCH THE BMW MEERKAT MAGIC MOBILE CAR HIDE AND WILD AND FREE UNGULUNGU MEERKATS / SURICATES VIDEO / FILM HERE...
The first video to watch for a good explanation with The Wild and Free Ungulungu group meerkats / suricates and the 'Meerkat Magic Mobile BMW car / mobile hide in The Meerkat Magic Valley Reserve of The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project Oudtshoorn Western Cape South Africa'.
The second video to watch for a good explanation with The Wild and Free Ungulungu group meerkats / suricates and the 'Meerkat Magic Mobile BMW car / mobile hide in The Meerkat Magic Valley Reserve of The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project Oudtshoorn Western Cape South Africa'.
Hardcover; 240 pages; photographs of the Kalahari meerkats and the Little Karoo meerkats; Publisher New Holland Publishers, 2016
ISBN 1921517654, 9781921517655
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