Mongooses on the move: an apparent case of interspecific cooperative vigilance between carnivores

17 April 2007

Meerkats (Suricata suricatta) and yellow mongooses (Cynictis penicillata) show antipredator behaviours which, at least in the former species, can take the form of cooperation between pack members. Here, we describe an apparent case of cooperative vigilance between one yellow mongoose and three meerkats while the animals were travelling in open terrain from one termite mound to another. We hypothesize that the observed interspecific interaction, although enabled by similarities in the behaviour of both herpestid species, might have been favoured by the shared use of burrows leading to interspecific tolerance and the high predation pressure put on small groups. To our knowledge, this would constitute the first reported instance of cooperation between two carnivore species related to predator detection.