Nick took over as the meerkat habituator at Tswalu in early August 2011. The Gosa meerkat gang were known as the Gosa ground dam group at this time (named after the Gosa ground dam in the middle of their territory) and were 22 meerkats strong. Cleopatra was the alpha female, but Nick suspects that she was relatively inexperienced. (WE will be contacting previous habituators for further history soon.)

Some time in August 2011 Cleo gave birth to four pups, but during their first move, in early September 2011, two of the four pups got lost and were never seen again.

In November 2011 the group became unsettled with the numbers fluctuating from 22 to 18 then back to 20, down to 18 and back to 22. Nick thinks that this could have been due to the fact that some of the males were out ‘visiting’ other groups, but during this time there was definitely some instability. Also during November Cleo fell pregnant, but so did one of the other females. A subordinate female. 

Then in early january 2012 Cleo gave birth in the Northern burrow, and Nick knows this because she suddenly went from very pregnant to very thin and also because her fur was very red as a result of the Kalahari red sand sticking to the fluids on her fur from the birth.

The rest of the gang moved to the Camel Thorn Burrow almost immediately and soon Cleo joined them with no pups!! Its believed that the other pregnant female killed Cleo’s pups, although we will never know for sure. 

What we do know is that those pups were never seen again and the group split at this time. The 10 meerkats that remain behind led by Cleo are the Gosa gang and the other 12, along with the other pregnant female, have disappeared. They may have joined with two groups to the south (the Rockstars and the Wombles), but we don’t know.