Photo cred: N. Britz (c)
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.