Erindi Serval Conservation Project

The serval, Leptailurus serval, is a medium-sized African wild cat. During the hunting era on the reserve, the first confirmed serval was a photograph of one shot by a hunter. Its presence on Erindi was a surprise, as the reserve isn’t within the known distribution range of this animal. In early 2008, the Global Leopard Project at Erindi found the remains of a serval that had been killed and eaten by a leopard, and as game drives went out more regularly, sightings were reported more often.

In late 2011 the first sub-adult male serval was captured in a box trap. Anesthetized with a syringe through a hole in the crate to ensure minimal stress (the same method as with the honey badgers), the immobilized serval was carefully and quickly weighed and measured, then fitted with a VHF tracking collar and released where he had been captured. The young male was found to move in a fairly small area of about 3 000 ha.

Fences did not hinder him, and he was located on both sides of the Erindi perimeter fence – good news for the genetic diversity of the species in the area, as they are clearly able to move around freely to breed. Around the same time, a nearby hunting farm managed to capture a male serval in a cage trap and they brought the animal to Erindi for a VHF tracking collar and relocation to ensure his best chances of survival. Serval sightings have since become more regular, not only on Erindi but in the surrounding area.

Donate towards the serval project now to support scientific research and the protection of their habitats.