iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority has introduced two rare servals into the Eastern Shores section of iSimangaliso, complementing the small resident population. Less than a dozen of these elusive creatures are currently thought to be found in the 230 000ha long iSimangaliso which offers the ideal habitat and wildscape
The adult female (above, left) and young male (above, right) were confiscated from a farmer in Vryheid who alleged that he found them in snares in his farm. They were recovered by an Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife District Conservation Officer and taken to the Emdoneni Animal Care and Rehabilitation Centre near Hluhluwe, which has been in operation for 18 years. During this time they have successfully rehabilitated and released into the wild cheetahs, servals, caracals and an African wild cat. They have previously given iSimangaliso servals that were released on the Western Shores.
Servals are listed as one of the “”Threatened or Protected Species” (TOPS), due to their rarity. They are vulnerable to being snared and killed by farmers and in particular for their beautiful pelts. The two new additions, which are still wild and not habituated to humans, were set free in the wide open grassland area where there is suitable habitat and plenty of prey. Servals eat mainly rodents, fish, birds, insects and small reptiles which are found in abundance in our natural wetland areas. Visitors on night drives will be lucky to spot them along with other predator species that include hyaena, jackal, leopard and genet. “It is fantastic to be releasing the serval cats into the pristine wilderness of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park where they are now free to wander in the wilderness without having to worry about any human pressure and can enjoy an abundance of delicacies of a well-balanced ecosystem. We hope we will see more of these threatened cat species being released in iSimangaliso in the future” said Louis and Cecillie Nel, owners of Emdoneni
iSimangaliso was also pleased to welcome Ms Fanny Douvere, Coordinator of UNESCO’s World Heritage Marine Programme, who was accompanied by the famous documentary, Thalassa, of the French main TV channel France3 to the serval release. Thalassa is producing a 30 minute documentary dedicated to marine world heritage that will be aired worldwide later this year. UNESCO’s 46 marine world heritage sites are considered “Jewels of the Oceans”. iSimangaliso was one of only two sites selected to represent these jewels in the documentary. In view of iSimangaliso’s close working partnership with Reserva Marinha Parcial da Ponta do Ouro and the proposed listing of Reserva Marinha Parcial da Ponta do Ouro with iSimangaliso as Africa’s first transboundary world heritage site, the visit was extended to Mozambique. Cross cutting issues include compliance; research; visitor management; managing disaster risks and large scale developments; community benefits and empowerment. A joint management framework is currently being drafted.