"S" is for Serval

By

12.10.2012



CCF has carried out a number of camera trapping surveys, and also maintains a network of cameras positioned for ongoing monitoring of the wildlife on our land.  While we are mainly focused on cheetahs, there are many other species out there, and the cameras will trigger no matter what passes them by.  In this series of weekly blog entries, I will use these pictures to illustrate some of the wealth of animal life in Namibia – one species per week.  I hope you will enjoy seeing a little more of our world here in the bush.

I’d like to make a special appeal to everyone who reads this blog. Please think of CCF this Christmas. Many of our camera traps are beginning to feel the ravages of time and will soon need replacement. Some have been out in the bush in the heat and rain for three continuous years now, and have taken hundreds of thousands of pictures. However, I very much doubt they’ll all survive another year. We have recently received two brand new camera traps from our generous donors in Germany, but many more are needed if we are going to be able to continue this form of research. Details of the types of cameras we need can be found on our wishlist.

The letter “S” brings us back to the cat family, with the acrobatic Serval.



Although rarely seen by visitors, the serval is present in over 40 countries south of the sahara, and has also been reintroduced into Tunisia.  There may also still be a few in Algeria, but this isn’t known for certain.  The Namibian population is limited to the north-eastern portion of the country, with CCF just on the edge of the range.  During five years of field work, I have only had two sightings, and even on camera traps, they are highly unusual.

The total population size isn’t known, but most national parks within their range report healthy populations and as a result, the species as a whole is listed by the IUCN as Least Concern. 

Servals mainly eat small mammals, such as rodents, and are also good at catching birds – sometimes in flight.  They are talented jumpers, able to jump over 7m to land on their prey, and typically are successful about 50% of the time with this kind of attack.  Hunting occurs during the latter portion of the afternoon and throughout the night.  Servals stand 62 cm at the shoulder with males weighing around 11 kg.

Although the population is stable, servals are hunted for their pelts in several west-African countries, where they are used for both medicinal and ceremonial purposes.  Elsewhere in Africa their range is being reduced as wetland areas are drained to support increasing human populations.  They do not kill small livestock, but do sometimes take chicken and small poultry.  Servals actually can be beneficial to farmers by reducing local rodent populations.

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