NAIROBI PARK DIARY

Serval in the valley

Cat out looking for breakfast provides a feast for the eyes

In Summary

• An impala's panic gave the signal of a predator in the vicinity

Serval cat
Serval cat
Image: GARETH JONES

When driving in the Nairobi National Park, always be prepared for those “suddenly” moments when you see something rare or special. It is good to drive with your camera on and ready next to you if possible. If you have binoculars, have them out as well. Slow driving is obviously necessary for good sightings.

Well, such a “suddenly” moment happened recently when, early in the morning, I drove very slowly down the rough rocky road through the Sosian valley. In the long grass, I saw an impala ram, looking intently in one direction and giving loud “snorting” alarm calls.

I could not see anything due to the long grass and thick bush. I wondered if it might be a leopard in the rocks. So I reversed and switched off the engine. After waiting a short while, a beautiful cat emerged and walked up the road.

It was a beautiful serval cat. I sat very quietly to ensure the serval remained calm and behaved naturally. After a short while, the serval cat walked towards my vehicle, then stopped and looked at me for a brief moment, before turning and walking off into the thick bush, no doubt hunting for breakfast.

To see a serval cat anywhere is very special, and the Nairobi National Park is a good place to find them. They are not common and are difficult to see due to their markings. They are quite small cats that could look a bit like a cheetah, but are much smaller. Tip of the day: watch and listen. The alarmed impala helped this sighting.

Next time you are thinking about what to do with recreational time, why not come and spend it in the Nairobi National Park? Pack a picnic basket, relax and enjoy taking in the ‘soul tonic’ of God’s creation.

For more information, visit: www.kws.go.ke