National Geographic : 2002 Sep
Mating in the open is risky and rare. Outside the safety of a bur row meerkats must scan the sky for pred ators. Their distance vision is far more acute than ours, allowing them to spot an eagle on the wing more than a thousand feet away. But close up, other senses take over. A quick sniff (below) is the meerkat equiv alent of checking a group membership card. Scent-marking, smelling, and grooming behaviors reinforce the rela tionships that help meerkats survive. Usually only the dominant male and female mate, produc ing 80 percent of the offspring in a group.