The serval is a slender wild cat with an appearance that could best be described as the missing link between the leopard and archetypal domestic cat. The leopard is an elusive and tricky cat to find in the wild, and it requires expert tracking skills and hawk-like eyes to locate these predators. Our small in stature serval certainly bears a striking resemblance to leopards in terms of behaviour – it is also a solitary and aloof species.
While the leopard has a fairly wide distribution, the serval remains is really only found in certain pockets of bushveld and tends to favour riparian zones, making the terrain around Motswiri favourable. The serval is seldom seen in the wild; and when spotted is often mistaken for the African wild cat.
Witness, a guide from RAW Botswana Motswiri Camp, knows his wildlife and easily identified the serval. He said there is a serval family that dwells in deep in the marshlands of Selinda terrain. The young serval he managed to photograph moves with grace and certainly made use of its inherent agility to dart up trees.
Here are a few facts about the serval :
- Servals rely on their hearing when it comes to flushing out prey. Their large ears account for their acute hearing and are certainly a hallmark feature of this unusual looking cat. They will remain dead still when they hear a rustle, and then pounce on the quarry which meets its fate through shock or a swift bite to the neck. These quiet cats are notorious for devouring their meal at a rapid rate!
- These crepuscular cats thrive on a diet of rodents, amphibians and birds. They rarely eat carrion and don’t really have a need to scavenge due to their highly efficient and successful hunting skills. Did you know that they are one of the most successful hunters in the Felidae family?
- A serval has a variety of calls, grunts, yips, squeaks and purrs. These vocalizations express a range of emotions, but their most high pitched call is used to call out for other servals.
- Much like the leopard, serval are solitary creatures – expect when accompanied by a mating partner or a female with her young.
- Serval kittens are stashed in a lair and taken care of by their mother. The mother will move the litter at strategic intervals to avoid
We are very lucky that guide Witness managed to snap these photos of this delicate spotted carnivore. Not only is it elusive, but also notoriously shy.