Morning sun warms a meerkat clan.
WHILE WARMING THEMSELVES in morning sun, a family of meerkats in South Africa stands to scan for predators before heading out to hunt for food. This is one of several habituated groups of meerkats researchers have been studying since the early 1990s as part of the Kalahari Meerkat Project, one of the longest-running studies of animal behavior and communication.
With a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology, photographer Jen Guyton spent a year documenting the animals, even lying down in this field of yellow Devil’s thorn to capture the clan at ground level. “These are highly social animals,” says Guyton, “and young ones imitate adult behavior”—learning, for example, how to safely eat one of their favorite foods: scorpions. Adult females pitch in to care for the group’s pups, so survival rates are high. And their complex language has “syntax,” says Guyton, with combinations of calls that signal whether a predator is near or far and either flying or creeping on the ground. “Because meerkats are such charismatic animals,” she adds, “they can be ambassadors for nature”—and for conservation.
The National Wildlife Federation is providing resources to help families and caregivers across the country provide meaningful educational opportunities and safe outdoor experiences for children during these incredibly difficult times.Learn More
President and CEO Collin O’Mara reveals in a TEDx Talk why it is essential to connect our children and future generations with wildlife and the outdoors—and how doing so is good for our health, economy, and environment.Watch Now
Ditch the disposables and make the switch to sustainable products.Shop Now
Search, discover, and learn about wildlife. Anywhere, any time.Get the Apps
More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.