The world is full of felines, or Felidae. From lions and tigers all the way to the domesticated house cat, they all share similar traits. Sharp claws. Powerful bite. They were made to survive in the wild! But some wild cats are known to be so solitary that catching them with a camera lens, let alone the naked eye, is rare!
Take the reclusive Serval, for example.
A native of Africa, these lanky cats hide in brush not only to hunt and sleep but to raise their babies. Per the African Wildlife Foundation, Servals…
“…are medium-sized wild cats with tawny, black-spotted coats and long necks and long legs that allow them to see over savanna grasses.
They also have large ears and an acute sense of hearing.”
Recently, photographer George Turner, visited the Asilia Namiri Plains Camp in Tanzania and caught this regal shot of a serval covered in inky fur, due to “melanism,” which is SUPER rare.
So what is this “melanism”?
“Melanism (increased development of the dark-coloured pigment melanin in skin/hair) in servals primarily occurs in East Africa, particularly in the highland regions over 2000m, which is what makes this sighting particularly special.
At around 1000m, the Namiri Plains, Tanzania, are considerably “lower” than the normal altitude were melanism is more prevalent. It’s likely this particular serval travelled from the nearby – and much higher – Ngorongoro Crater and established a new territory.
Nobody *really* knows why melanism occurs in servals. Some think the increased altitude (and forested habitat that comes with it) reduces exposure to daylight, encouraging melanism.”
Very cool! But what happens with “Manja” mates? I know we’re all hoping for a litter of adorable kittens!
“There’s no guarantee that “Manja , should he find a mate, will produce melanistic kittens. As melanism is carried by a recessive gene, it could be years before any begin appearing in the area.
The hope, for now, is that he continues to flourish in the grasslands and build on his territory.
Also, what serval could resist those charming good looks?!”
Couldn’t agree more! But that’s what I think… what do you think about this majestic AF black cat?
Let us know in the comments!