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© AWF 2022

Serval Reintroduction Project

A misunderstood small carnivore 

In Malawi servals are rare, and limited in distribution to a few locations in protected areas. Servals are at risk from a combination of active persecution, lack of awareness of their protected status and research and understanding of their ecological requirements.

Despite being listed as a protected species, local communities are often not aware of this, and their status and value is not highly recognized. Servals are often captured as pets and sold openly on markets. Unfortunately as they grow they do not make good pets as they are wild animals and end up in sanctuaries or getting killed.


© National Geographic 2022


Soft Release

© Ben Williams 2022

serval cub_edited.jpg

Carnivore Research Malawi coordinated the reintroduction of two servals that were victims of the pet trade in Malawi and were being held at the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre. Working together with the centre and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) CRM reintroduced two servals into Kasungu National park in 2014 and 2017..

A pre-release boma was built in Kasungu National Park to facilitate a soft release. The servals were tranquilised at LWC and transported to the pre-release boma in a specifically designed transport crate. The animals were then released into the boma and fitted with a GPS collar to track their movements post-release.

The animals stayed inside the boma for a period of around 3-4 weeks, during which they were monitored and fed by the CRM team. After approximately 3 weeks the enclosure was opened to allow the animals to leave whilst we continued to provide supplementary food for the final week until they naturally dispersed.

After release our team performed daily behavioural observations tracking them on foot to record feeding and social behaviour. GPS data were collected to record spatial behaviour to determine whether the animals established a home range. 

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