As part of our Planet Earth Live global event, here’s the final installment from Toby Strong, Witness Cameraman
Here in the Kalahari winter has arrived. Last night it was down to minus 7.
The mornings are bitter and the meerkats are now not getting out of bed until long after the sun has risen.
Swift and the other three pups are doing well. They are foraging for themselves and their bundle of fluff bodies are changing into the slender forms of adult meerkats.
Ernesto the brave is also doing remarkably well. To everybody’s surprise he has retained the sight in both eyes, his weight is back up, he has resumed pup feeding and look out duty. To boot, he will sport a rather rakish scar to woo the ladies with.
Enilie’s command is unquestioned and she has successfully led the group through a tough, tough month and faced many challenges along the way.
But winter is now here, the leanest of times are now being entered and the fate of Whiskers is by no means certain.
The scarcity of food will only accelerate. The hours of daylight are now substantially shorter so that means less time to forage.
All of Whiskers’ neighboring groups are also ranging wide in search of food so the chances of running into a bloody battle are greatly increased.
As we approach the end of our filming out here, the meerkat team all agree that we have been uniquely privileged to live for this time within the inner circle of this meerkat group. Roaming the Kalahari plains, crashing out in the heat of the day with little bodies sprawled out next to us and heading back to the burrow tired in the sun’s last rays.
We have been honored indeed to spend a month with Swift and her family.