The secretive serval

Grumeti | November 2019

Although most of the Grumeti reserve is currently covered in short green grasses, there are a few areas where the grasses are slightly longer and a little drier. These particular areas are prime habitats for the serval (Leptailurus serval), a medium-sized cat that is mostly nocturnal but may, at times, be active also during the day.

Although these small predators are generally very difficult to see, we enjoyed a few high-quality sightings of a few different servals during this month of November. One sighting that stood out was from the morning of 6 November. We came across a serval as it was crossing the road near Sabora Tented Camp. It looked hungry and seemed to be looking for prey. Servals are carnivorous and generally hunt rodents, small birds, frogs and some reptiles. On this particular morning, this serval seemed to be looking for some of the grass rats. It walked through the grasses and then suddenly stopped. It stood motionless and began using its keen sense of hearing to locate its prey.

Once it determined where the rats were, it jumped up in a ballet-like style over the grasses and onto its prey. The serval didn’t catch the rat upon landing, but it then quickly scrambled around before lifting its head from the grasses with its prize: a fat grass rat!