A serval (Leptailurus serval) was sighted and photographed in the Middle Atlas in April 2014 by an amateur hiker named Salim Meghni. This is reportedly the first photo of this animal in the wild in Morocco.
In the IUCN Red List of the species, Jdeidi et al. (2010) wrote: “North of the Sahara, there are recent records from Morocco (Cuzin 2003) and from northern Algeria (K. de Smet pers. comm.). They went extinct in Tunisia, but a population has been reintroduced into el-Feijda National Park (K. de Smet), with animals of East African stock (F. Cuzin pers. comm.)”. And then added “possibly extinct in Algeria”.
The question is: who did field work in Algeria so they can conclude that it’s possibly extinct? Absence of recent records does not mean extinction, especially when there are no specific studies that tried to search the species.
The secretive behaviour of the animal makes it difficult to see in an region where it is already rare such as North Africa. Probably it’s for this reason why there is such a paucity of data about this species in this region. For instance, Cuzin (2003) summarised only 5 observations in the period 1986-2000, all of them from Lower Draa and adjacent areas. For the period 1900-1971, the author found only 2 sightings (see map below).
- Saharan Cheetah filmed at Ahaggar, southern Algeria (March 2020).
- Sand Cats at Merzouga, Morocco in 2019 (2 individuals – one photographed and another filmed).
- Sand Cats resting in bird nests built in Acacia trees.
Cuzin, F. 2003. Les grands mammifères du Maroc méridional (Haut Atlas, Anti Atlas et Sahara). Thèse de Doctorat, Université Montpellier II.
Jdeidi, T., Masseti, M., Nader, I., de Smet, K. & Cuzin, F. 2010. Leptailurus serval. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T11638A3299247. Downloaded on 17 August 2014.