Although Africa’s serval population remains relatively widespread and abundant, habitat degradation and hunting are responsible for a decline in overall numbers. Of primary concern is the loss of wetland habitat which supports the high densities of rodents on which servals depend. Compounding wetland degradation is overgrazing and burning of grasslands, which similarly reduce the abundance of small mammals. Despite being listed on Appendix II of CITES, which prohibits international trade without a permit, hunting of the serval for its pelt still continues on a significant scale, particularly in West Africa. Furthermore, in rural parts of Africa, the serval is often persecuted by farmers who consider it a threat to livestock (1) (7).
Given, that these impacts are yet to seriously undermine the stability of the overall serval population, the species is currently classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. However, in North Africa the serval population is thought to comprise less than 250 individuals, isolated in vulnerable subpopulations of fewer than 50. Consequently, the population north of the Sahara is recognised to be Critically Endangered (1).