Since the return of a single male lion to Gabon’s Plateaux Batéké National Park, this park now harbours four species of wild felids; more than any other park within Central Africa’s Congo Basin. Besides the lion (Panthera leo), the park is home to important populations of leopards (Panthera pardus), African golden cats (Caracal aurata), and Gabon’s only protected population of the serval (Caracal serval). Servals are open habitat specialists which mainly feed on small rodents. The species is most easily recognized by its long legs, short tail and large, rounded ears. Commonly, the medium-sized serval is boldly spotted black on a tawny underground. There are also melanistic individuals in certain areas, which appear completely black. Even rarer, is the so-called ‘servaline’ form, which has much smaller, freckled spots, and was once thought to be a separate species. All three forms have been filmed in and around Plateaux Batéké National Park, making this the only site where all forms are known to occur. Photographs of all four cat species, including the three different serval forms, can be found below.
|Lion in Plateaux Batéké National Park / Lion aux Parc National des Plateaux Batéké|
|Leopard in the Batéké savannah / Panthère dans la savane Batéké|
|African golden cat in a forest gallery / Chat doré africaine dans une galerie de forêt|
Below, pictures of servals, in this order, of the common form, the servaline form, and the melansitic form / Ci-dessous, en cette orde, photographs de servals de la forme commune, la forme "servaline", et la forme melanique.