It’s a wild life in St Lucia

21 Aug 2018

Tourists and shop staff got the surprise of their lives on Sunday when an African Serval Cat ran into the Walkabouts store in the middle of St Lucia town as they were busy with the morning’s activities. Reports of a ‘wild cat’ soon revealed that this was actually a serval – a rare and elusive feline not commonly encountered in urban areas, even one surrounded by the thick indigenous vegetation of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife veterinarian, Dr Dave Cooper, was called to the scene to sedate and examine the animal, which by then had taken refuge in a shelf behind the shop counter. The young male – estimated at less than a year in age – was unharmed other than a scratch on one paw. It appeared that he had been scavenging on the waste at the rear of a nearby fish restaurant.

Serval

Cooper was as surprised as anyone that the animal had appeared in the bustling tourist hub, but on ascertaining that he was in good health, decided to move him to a remote part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park where other serval have been released and are occasionally spotted.

According to Cooper, “St Lucia is no stranger to wildlife wandering the streets. I have encountered and sometimes treated at least twenty animal species in my years here, including hippo, crocodiles, kudu, hyaena and even a young leopard cub that was found eating dog food on somebody’s front stoep.”

Media queries can be addressed to Lindy Duffield on lindy@isimangaliso.com or 035 590 1633.