Monday 17 January 2011

Barbary Serval

It seems that the Barbary serval may still exist, but only just. Today in 2011, the serval largely inhabits that area of the African continent that is below the Sahara desert - sub-Sahara Africa.

The Barbary coast is that area of Africa that is on the Mediterranean Sea. A part of Morocco's coastline is on the Mediterranean Sea. It is believed that the serval inhabits Morocco in low numbers. In short it is rare in that country and described by the IUCN Red List as endangered under their classification system. The Barbary lion was made extinct by human activity many years ago.

View Larger Map

On that basis there is a wildcat called the Barbary Serval. This state of play will inevitably change for the worse for the cat and it will in due course be extirpated from the Barbary coast as the human population grows in Morocco, as it surely will. This, though, is my personal opinion, a rather negative and pessimistic assessment you might think. It is based on the general trends in population of all the wildcats.

See a map of the serval's distribution in Africa: Serval range.

There are no figures available as to the likely numbers of servals there are on the Barbary coast - see Serval Population Graph.

The Barbary serval is not a subspecies of the serval according to the IUCN Red List. There is only one species of serval: Leptailurus serval (Schreber, 1776). However, the Wikipedia authors quote the book, Mammal Species of the World in stating that there are 18 subspecies one of which is the serval inhabiting Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. They name this species of serval: Leptailurus serval constantinus. This is almost certainly incorrect.

The science of the classification of the species (taxonomy) is evolving and in the past (19th and early 20th century) there was a tendency to over classify meaning sub-divide the species based on appearance of the animal. Modern DNA testing has rationalised the subspecies and reduced their numbers in finding no real differences. I would not rely on this piece of Wikipedia text.

See more: Serval.

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