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Serval photographed in the Middle Atlas, Morocco

A serval (Leptailurus serval) was observed in the Middle Atlas in April 2014 by an amateur hiker named Salim Meghni. This is reportedly the first photo (see below) of this felid 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).

Serval observations in Central Morocco up to the end of the 20th century (Fabrice Cuzin 2003)

Read also:

  • Saharan Cheetah filmed by camera-trap at Ahaggar, southern Algeria (March 2020).
  • Sand Cats observed at Merzouga, Morocco for the first time in almost three decades (2019).
  • 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.

Serval (Leptailurus serval), Middle Atlas, Morocco, April 2014 (photo by Salim Meghni via Ecologie.ma)

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