meerkats use sentries to defend their base
As one of Africa’s most vulnerable mammals, meerkats require a constant lookout to ensure their survival
Meerkats may appear cute and harmless, but there’s some serious military strategy going on inside their furry heads. These small African mammals are members of the mongoose family and live in groups of between 20 and 40 meerkats known as mobs or gangs.
The meerkats’ base is a large network of tunnels. Intruders like snakes or birds of prey can be catastrophic for meerkat families, so a sentry is always on guard to protect the group from danger. The lookout will use various calls to warn his allies about different threats – one may relate to a terrestrial predator, while another warns of danger from above. A meerkat is able to spot a flying eagle from over 300 metres (984.3 feet) away.
As well as defending their base, meerkats aren’t averse to a bit of warmongering. Working as a unit, meerkats can fight off a predator as fearsome as a jackal. However, they don’t just fight predators. If they encounter a rival group, the mob may perform a war dance, attempting to intimidate the enemy by kicking up clouds of dust and rushing towards their foes. If both groups refuse to back down, a bloody battle will often ensue.