Ever since Sophie was in London and saw a BBC movie about meerkats narrated by Paul Newman, she’s been obsessed with these tiny animals.
Their long thin furry bodies just over a foot tall are designed for speed above ground and burrowing underground. They inhabit some of the most difficult, barren and dangerous places on earth yet they appear to live happily in their large families. When they stand tall on their hind legs and peer out with their binocular-like eyes, it’s as if they scan entire swaths of the African deserts where they live.
Meerkats are about as different from giraffes as any creature can be, yet Sophie is intoxicated with them. They live so close to her childhood home in Botswana yet she never knew of their existence. Kind of ironic that a giraffe who has lived unlike any other, traveling the world freely as a LUC8K ambassador, would not know of the existence of an animal species practically living in her backyard.
The movie chronicles the story of Kolo, a young meerkat with a big sense of adventure. Growing up is his greatest challenge with danger lurking in everywhere in the Kalahari Desert. Ravenous lions, limited food and poisonous snakes are just some of the dangers the young meerkat endures. As he survives each challenge, he grows up to become a vital member of the family, taking his turn to help his siblings and parents in their battle for survival.
With a little time between her trips, Sophie was determined to meet Kolo, or at least a meerkat like him. She gathered her collection of her luxury leather bags and began the long journey to the remote settlement of Van Zylsrus, in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa.
There’s not much in Van Zylsrus except for the southern edge of the Kalahari Desert. Where Sophie is headed there will be even more desert and less of everything else. It’s a long hike to the Kalahari Research Center, which houses the Kalahari Meerkat Project, perhaps the most in-depth study of these isolated mammals. But fortunately the long-legged Sophie can travel great distances quickly and can survive with little water, which is stored in her LUC8K luxury leather Tote. She makes it to the research centre in quick time no worse for the wear.
There are hundreds of meerkats being studied as they live their lives and face their struggles with the harsh desert elements and predators. Sophie is enjoying herself more than she ever could have imagined taking pictures and getting emotionally involved with their daily lives.
One meerkat in particular has caught Sophie’s eye. The researchers tell her his name is Governor. This particular meerkat appears to have a bit more energy than the others and is an able family protector. Showing how tough he is by single handily fighting off a poisonous snake.
Governor can tell that Sophie is watching him and begins to perform for her. At one point he stands on his hind legs and stares straight at Sophie. Then, without warning, he charged at her. Sophie was startled at first but stood her ground. Governor stopped in front of her and the two cautiously touch each other with their noses. Governor then moved under Sophie, using her 15 foot body to shield him from the sun.
It looks the beginning of a special friendship.