Shenton Safaris

Rare sighting: melanistic serval cat in the Serengeti

An extremely rare melanistic serval cat has been sighted in the lowland areas of the Serengeti National Park. This is a majorly significant and rare sighting, mainly because these servals are generally perceived to only habitate the high-lying areas of this area.

melanistic serval cat

A melanistic serval cat sighted in a low-lying area of the Serengeti ©Alison Mees

Traveller Alison Mees was lucky enough to get a sighting of this rare and special cat in an area it is not known to frequent:

On a morning game drive in the Seronera area of Central Serengeti, driving down a rough road we suddenly came across a black cat walking through the grasses. We wondered what it was to start with, then on closer inspection with the binoculars and camera with 100-400mm lens we looked at the shape and the way it walked. It looked like a serval’s body, walking and head/ears the same as a serval. We watched it walking and trying to hunt in the grass for around 40 minutes. No success in hunting it walked and disappeared into the bushes. Looking at the photos we realised it must have been a melanistic serval, which I had not heard of a sighting before in Serengeti.

melanistic serval cat

©Alison Mees

Although Alison had not previously heard of these rare melanistic serval cats being sighted in the area, there have been a number of recorded sightings in other areas of Tanzania. You can read previous accounts of sightings of this special cat on our blog.



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