A serval was recently seen on camera repelling a growling attack from a substantially bigger cheetah in a rare encounter between two of Africa’s most remarkable wild cats. The serval was captured on camera by Mika Solomon and Gavin Newfield throughout a recent visit to Ivory Tree Lodge in South Africa’s Pilanesberg Game Reserve.
As the group pulls over to watch some nearby cheetahs, they spot a unique interaction. One of the larger cats saw the serval and approached to examine the strange creature. Conflicts between wild cats have been observed in a number of species, despite the fact that scientists are indeed uncertain of the precise causes.
The cheetah may be acting in this way to avoid rivalry for food and resources. Nevertheless, chasing a cat that can fiercely defend itself is a dangerous, energy-draining strategy, so this juvenile cheetah was prudent to refrain from making a full-fledged attack.
Differences Between Servals and Cheetahs
These two cats’ differences in size are the most evident. The serval is between 17 and 24 inches tall, 23.6 to 39.4 inches long, and weighs between 7.7 and 41.9 pounds. In contrast, the cheetah is larger, measuring between 43 and 59 inches in length, 45 to 53 inches in height, and weighing between 88 and 140 pounds.
These measurements show that the cheetah is far larger than the serval; in comparison, the serval would appear to be a young animal. The next time you think you see a mother and her baby cheetah fighting, look closely because it’s probably just the serval and the cheetah fighting again.
Their social tendencies are another area where the two cats differ from one another. Although they can be seen resting in small groups throughout the day, servals are known to be solitary creatures who rarely gather in numbers. Each serval has an area they designate by leaving odors and scratchings.
The only time a male and female serval meet is to mate, and each cat immediately departs for its preferred region. The female serval and her cubs are the sole groups with whom this animal expresses solidarity.
Those filming the interaction between the two cats had this to say about their experience: “The sighting ended when the serval took an opening to exit the battle for territory, as the cheetah recognized the serval’s attempt, he shot towards the serval’s path, but, despite the rustling of leaves, nothing of those two was to be seen again.”
Thankfully, curiosity didn’t kill the cat in this scenario! Both animals made it out of the situation unharmed. They were simply just curious about one another, yet still wanted to keep their distance. Take a look at the incredible encounter below!