The African serval is a small to medium cat weighing 13-19 kg with a height of around 60cm. "The Serval (Lepatilurus serval) occurs widely through sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of tropical rainforest and the Saharan desert. North of the Sahara, there are recent records from Morocco and from northern Algeria. They became extinct in Tunisia, but a population has been reintroduced into Feijda N.P, with animals of East African stock." Over 90 percent of its natural diet is prey weighing less than 200 grams, including grass mice, swamp rats, shrews, cane rats, and small birds, lizards, snakes, insects, fish and frogs.
In 2008 an application to add the savannah cat (a hybrid of the African serval and domestic cat) to the live import list was refused by the Commonwealth Environment Minister based on potential impacts of the hybrid on Australia's ecology.
The Technical Assessment Panel assessed the Serval as Highly Dangerous to public safety, with a Low (verging on moderate) likelihood of establishment and Extreme consequence should the species establish in the wild. Consequently, the species has been assessed as posing a Serious risk.
During the public comment period, NRE Tas received four public submissions on the proposed import of Servals. The Technical Assessment Panel expressed serious concerns over the possibility of hybridisation with domestic (including feral) cats, the marginal climatic match, and public concerns regarding the import of the species. These concerns have been taken into account and the serval is listed under Schedule 4 (Restricted special purpose) wildlife under the Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulations 2021.
Following an application to import male only desexed servals the Technical Assessment Panel reviewed this assessment on 21/11/2014. Following this review, the species is now available for import into Tasmania by Wildlife exhibition Licence holders approved only under the following conditions:
- Only castrated males inspected by a Department veterinarian to ensure that they have been adequately castrated to be imported.
- Only available for import by those wildlife exhibitors approved to hold serious risk species provided they are housed in within either-
- A secure locked double door (airlock type) enclosure contained within a wildlife park enclosed by security grade perimeter fence or;
- A secure, locked double door (airlock type) enclosure contained within a secure, lockable building.
African Serval (Leptailurus serval) Risk Assessment (220 KB)