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Photographing Meerkats is a blog post from the Meerkats category.

Photographing Meerkats

Posted by Will on

Earlier this year, I travelled to the Makgadikgadi Pans region of Botswana to photograph some of the most charismatic (and cutest) creatures in Africa – meerkats!

Meerkat portrait, Botswana
Meerkat portrait, Botswana

Meerkats are members of the mongoose family and are found in the desert region of Southern Africa. They are social animals, living in large family groups. They sleep in underground networks and during the day they venture out of their dens in search of for food. A meerkat’s diet consists mainly of scorpions, beetles, lizards, eggs and small mammals.

Meerkats
Meerkats
Meerkats
Meerkats

Meerkats forage in groups with at least one sentry on duty at all times. They need to be extremely vigilant while they are out in the open so that they aren’t surprised by predators such as birds of prey or jackals. Meerkats aren’t very tall so they try to seek out the high ground in order to get a better view of their surroundings. The higher the vantage point the better so they will go to impressive lengths to find that perfect lookout post!

These meerkats are completely wild but over time they have become habituated to humans. This means it is possible to gain their trust and get really close to them. When people are around, these clever little creatures take full advantage of the situation and will sometimes climb on top of the nearest person for a better view out over the long grass. Sometimes they just decide that sitting on a warm human is more comfortable that sitting on the coarse sand!

Meerkats
Meerkats
Meerkats
Meerkats

Trying to photograph animals that jumped on me whenever I got too close was certainly a challenge that I wasn’t used to facing… not that I was complaining! For a behind the scenes look at this project including lots of amusing meerkat antics, check out this short 2-minute video.

One of the highlights of my time in Botswana was getting to spend time with some adorable three-week-old baby meerkats. These tiny babies first emerged from the den a day or so into my trip and after that I spent a lot of time with them so they became very comfortable around me. In fact, it wasn’t long before they were treating me like their own personal plaything!

Meerkats
Meerkats
Meerkats
Meerkats

Meerkats are charming little creatures and spending time with them is always a privilege. For more photos check out my meerkat image gallery. You can also get more behind the scenes photos and video by following me on Instagram.

Meerkats
Meerkats
Where next? Check out BeetleCam!

150 Comments

  1. Chloe Lemm said: October 7, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    Amazing little characters! Your work is inspiring 🙂

  2. Fiona Duthie said: October 28, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Am thrilled to have found you. I am passionate about wildlife. So I have had great pleasure at seeing all your photographs. Very many thanks for sharing all these wonderful photographs

  3. Cris - California said: March 5, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I didn’t realize how SMALL they are!! Hard to get a real sense of scale on TV. Sweet!

  4. Galena Debney said: April 4, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    You are a wonderful photographer and it is a pleasure to view your work.

  5. jacky howarx said: April 24, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    Amazing photography and loved the video x

  6. Hilay said: February 14, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    Delightful. Thank you for sharing your story and great images.

  7. wilma said: March 10, 2016 at 8:20 am

    WOW! what did you tell the meerkats to pose for a shooting session with you? wonderful!

  8. Wil' Burgsma Salvatore said: June 22, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    I love it all, photos, videos and story..how lucky are you to be surrounded by these cute little creatures and privelged with their trust, thank you for sharing

  9. Amber said: August 13, 2016 at 3:01 am

    It’s a pleasure and a challenge to get a wild animal to trust in you. It’s a great feeling when they become your “friend” I have a squirrel friend in my backyard … not quite as cool as a meerkat. I really enjoyed your pictures , thank you :o)

  10. Cindy said: February 3, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    I love these little guys. They have a great range of them at the Calgary Zoo in Alberta Canada. it is wonderfully set up for the little ones. When ever we go, I spend hours just watching them play and frolic about. I would so love to hold one, or at least pet one. Lovely work you do. Thanks for sharing.

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