Serval 1 – Photo copyright Helmi Flick – please respect copyright
The name of the cat is a Portuguese word meaning “wolf-deer”. This fine photograph shows very well the appearance of this cat. This wild cat has a slender body (somewhat like a Cheetah but much smaller, I think), with long legs and a tail shorter than expected for this size of cat. The long legs give her the ability to jump. Her jumping skills are required to catch and kill prey. Notice particularly the tall, large ears close together (rangefinder like).
These ears are particularly sensitive and allow her to catch small prey, usually rodents, in the long Savanna grass. So, although the prey is invisible it can be heard. And the exact position of the prey can be ascertained by these large ears.
A large pounce follows directly onto the prey. The coat is a nice camouflage. It is spotted brown (tawny) or black (tabby coat). The head is small and rather out of proportion. Her neck is elongated. One of the series of photographs of this cat by Helmi is of the back of the cat. You can notice the white spot on the ears in this photograph. The tail has 6-7 black rings (I think I can count 6 on the cat in this picture). The background color is pale yellow. They are poached for their skins which are traded as young Leopard skins or Cheetah skins. This has caused the breed to become extinct in South Africa Cape Province.