Shoulder height 60cm. Weight 9–18kg.
This long-legged cat is the tallest of Africa's 'small cats'. It has a similar build to a leopard, but black-on-gold spots giving way to streaking near the head. Seldom seen, it is widespread and quite common in moist grassland, reedbeds and riverine habitats throughout Africa, including northern Botswana. They're largely absent from the drier areas of the Kalahari.
Serval do particularly well in wetter areas where there is lots of long grass – and are common throughout the Okavango and Linyanti-Kwando area. Although they're relatively rarely seen, there have been consistent reports of good sightings from night drives along the channel from Savuti Camp. Serval prey on mice, rats, small mammals, birds, snakes, lizards and will sometimes even take fish or the young of small antelope. They use their big ears to locate their prey precisely by sound, and their long legs to see over tall grass, and to help them jump high as they pounce.