Thursday, 10 April 2014

The band of brothers

Last week, I travelled to Queen Elizabeth national park and more specifically Mweya Safari lodge to visit the Band of brothers.



This charismatic striped mongoose family was made famous by the BBC film about their daily lives and struggles around the lodge.

Banded mongoose much like their distant cousins the meerkats are part of the mongoose family, only twice as heavy if compared to the meerkat.

They are social animals, living in large family groups of up to 20 individuals, although the Mweya family is significantly larger than other families I have encountered at around 70 individuals.  They sleep in a underground network or whatever they can use for the same purpose and during the day they venture out of their dens in search of for food. Their diet consists mainly of scorpions, beetles, lizards, eggs and small mammals.



They forage in groups but unlike the meerkat they don’t use a century to guard the group. 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. They also stand on their hind legs as they 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 banded brothers are completely wild but over time they have become habituated to humans. They have been used for research for many years and have become part and parcel of the Mweya Safari lodge experience.



If you are patient you can easily gain their trust and get up close and personal with these inquisitive little fellows.  They would even allow some people to touch them although we don’t recommend it.
All the members of the group are related to each other and you can have up to 9 generations in the same family.



The banded mongoose doesn’t have a single dominant pair and interestingly the females are able to time their date of birth to coincide to create a nursery environment. These pups are then raised by the family as a unit.
This family has been part of ongoing research since 1994 providing a fascinating insight into their species and social system.

For those interested in meeting these little fellows, you can always contact “Premier Safaris” at reservations@premiersafaris.com or look for programmes on their website at www.premiersafaris.com

Mweya Safari lodge is part of the Marasa Africa group of lodges in East Africa – www.marasa.net