By Lisa-Marie Mills, Claire Allison
Although widely distributed south of the Sahara, the serval became extinct in the Cape provinces of South Africa over the last century mainly due to habitat loss, hunting and poaching. Recently however private game reserves in the Eastern Cape have begun re-introducing the species in the hopes of contributing to the eventual re-establishment of these wild cats in the region.
The serval is one of ten indigenous wild cats found in Africa. Only three other small wild cats are found in South Africa, namely the caracal, African wild cat, and the black-footed cat. The other three species, the sand cat, golden cat and jungle cat are found in limited areas in north and central Africa. The remaining big cats of Africa, lion, leopard and cheetah, receive much more attention than their smaller cousins.