We are fortunate in Nambiti to get fairly regular sightings of serval. In other areas, these small spotted cats are incredibly rare but we have sightings roughly once a week. Servals are considered crepuscular animals, meaning they are active at dawn and dusk. They are solitary cats and can often be seen hunting in long grass. They have large ears as they use hearing as 90% of their hunting method. They also have long legs in relation to their body size in order to walk slightly higher than the grass they’re hunting in. They then use their large ears to pinpoint a rustle of a rodent or small bird in the grass. Once they have pinpointed the location, they leap high and far through the air and land on the exact spot, securing the prey.
We had a great sighting of exactly that. We waited patiently as the serval picked up on some movement in the grass and sat dead still until the perfect moment to pounce. The suspense was enthralling as we all held our breath for the leap. The serval eventually took off and covered about 3 metres with absolute ease. We saw it walk off with its prize of a large rodent.
So, next time you’re out looking for lions in Nambiti, don’t overlook these majestic little cats. Take the time to watch their behaviour and you could even be rewarded with seeing a kill!
- Ross Cairns, game guide, Nambiti Hills Private Game Lodge
Photograph by Patrick Bouquet