While last year had been really good for sightings of Caracals, with two families with kittens in our area, this year the Servals stole the show. In mid-August we had a wonderful discovery of three tiny Serval kittens cuddled together at the entrance of a termite mound. We had seen the mother a few times in the area but the grass has been so long this season that it was difficult to keep up with her. We realized sha had cubs when she put them inside a huge termite mound near the track. It was fantastic to watch them play, albeit extremely challenging photography. On our first day we were completely alone with them during lunch hour, and the mother returned to nurse them. We photographed them in this very intimate moment until another vehicle approached and one of the guests stood up on the roof to photograph. That scared the mother, who got up and walked away after hissing.
The next morning we found them there again. They were on their own and really playful, until almost midday. The setting was difficult though, stems of grass and foliage everywhere, and getting a clean of them playing was difficult. One of those situations where video would have worked wonderfully.
At the end of the second morning we made the mistake of leaving them to go to see a Leopard that was apparently out hunting. We wanted to be back with the good afternoon light, but when we returned they were gone. I didn’t expect the mother to come in the middle of the day to take them away from that place, but that’s exactly what happened. We waited the whole afternoon hoping they would be still inside but they were not. Lesson learned, never ever leave the animals you want to photograph!
After that day the kittens disappeared for some time. We could see the mother out hunting sometimes but we could never follow her back to the cubs, as the grass was so long and she wouldn’t return to them often. But finally in early September they showed up again. The cubs had grown bigger, they were following the mother through the grass. Unfortunately one of the kittens was missing.