British wildlife photographer George Turner had a once-in-a-lifetime moment while shooting from the Asilia Namiri Plains Camp in Tanzania. He managed to capture a striking photo of an exceedingly rare black serval, an elusive wild cat native to Africa.
These solitary felines, known for their golden-yellow coats marked with black spots and stripes, typically weigh up to 40 pounds. A completely black serval is an extraordinary sight, most likely exhibiting melanism. Unlike albinism, which results from a lack of skin pigmentation, melanism occurs due to an abundance of black pigmentation in the skin.
Melanism in servals is mainly observed in East Africa, particularly in highland regions over 2000 meters, making this sighting especially unique. The Namiiri Plains, at around 1000 meters, are considerably “lower” in altitude than the typical range where melanism is more prevalent. It is believed that this particular black serval traveled from the nearby, much higher Ngornogoro Crater and established a new territory.
Despite their incredibly rare appearance, another black serval was spotted in Kenya by photographer Sergio Pitamitz two years prior. Wildlife photographers are always on the lookout for rare and unusual subjects, and the discovery of a black serval is truly remarkable. These elusive and secretive cats are typically found in tall grasses, making them challenging to spot. The excitement of encountering such a unique creature is truly incomparable.