Serval Leptailurus serval

 

Status: The northern subspecies is listed as endangered while all others are listed as threatened.

 

Serval have the largest ears and longest legs, relative to their body size, in the cat family. The ears are rounded with white stripes on the back and they rest on a small, elongate head. The pelage is reddish-brown with dark spots that may merge into stripes along the back. Servals are solitary animals that primarily communicate through urine spraying and rubbing saliva on objects. They also communicate using vocalizations such as shrill cries, growls and purring. Servals are primarily crepuscular. Their peak activity times are between ten and eleven at night and four and five in the morning. Servals are carnivorous, their diet consists primarily of hares, mole rats, ground squirrels, vlei rats, quails, gueleas, frogs, and flamingos. They catch their prey by leaping and landing on their victims with both front paws. They also have the ability to reach into deep holes or enter the water to catch prey.

 

Distribution: sub-Saharan Africa, with small populations in south-west Africa, and a reported relict population in North Africa (no recent sightings confirmed). As many as fourteen serval subspecies exist. The northern subspecies is listed as endangered while all others are listed as threatened.

 

THREATS: Servals are hunted for their coat, as a result they have been exterminated from the areas of their range with higher human populations.