The amazing team at The South African Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (SAWRC) have saved the lives of three Servals and four Genets. After being brought in, the cats remained in care until they were 6 or 7 months old and then given a vet check to ensure they are fit to be relocated and released. They were safely relocated from the SAWRC centre in Springs, Gauteng to an enclosure at Rhino Revolution in Hoedspruit, Limpopo. Here the cats can settle down in preparation for release back into the wild.
The morning of relocation began very early, with checks and rechecks done before the cats left the rehab and finally all taken through to the airport. The cats were all loaded in no time, ready to depart for Hoedspruit! In less than an hour, as opposed to a 5-hour car journey, the seven cats landed safely in Hoedspruit. CemAir waived all costs associated with this massive move, making the trip as quick and stress free for the cats as possible.
The Rhino Revolution team were waiting at the airport as the plane landed in Hoedspruit, Limpopo. The cats were all quickly offloaded into the waiting car and taken through to the readied cages and bomas. They will be left to settle down and get used to the new sights and sounds of the area. Once the two incredible vet nurses, Natalie Rogers and Jade Aldridge are happy that the newbies have settled, and the conditions are favourable, they will be released.
All wildlife that come to SAWRC are usually brought in by public, arrive via a vet or through confiscations done by government officials. Animals are checked, stabilised or receive the necessary treatment by a vet. Once the animal is stable, they are then taken through to the main rehab center to continue treatment and care there.
Two of the three Servals were brought in to one of SAWRC’s vets, Dr v d Westhuizen. They had been separated from their mom for unknown reasons. Both were in critical condition, emaciated and dehydrated. The third Serval was wild caught by Emerald Casino. It was becoming a “problem” to some farmers, killing chickens or livestock and once trapped, was relocated to SAWRC.
All being so young, they are started on a milk replacement with some added supplements and vitamins. They are then gradually weaned off that and semi solid food is introduced. Once they are accustomed to swallowing the semi solid foods, tiny bits of solid food are given. The size of the pieces of solid food are gradually made bigger, encouraging the cats to chew and then tear their food.
Three of the four Genets came in from a farm in Lichtenburg. On the farm stood a very old dead tree that was on the verge of falling over. The tree was subsequently cut down and only thereafter did the farmer discover that there were four Genet babies. An attempt was made to rear the kittens using ideal milk, which is not suitable for most wildlife. Sadly, one of the four kittens died while in the care of the farm owners and the remaining three were then quickly brought in.
The Genet kittens were stabilised, re-hydrated and slowly changed their food intake from the ideal milk to a more suited Kitty milk with the necessary supplements. Once they were stabilised and feeding beautifully, they were sent through to SAWRC’s main centre to continue their treatment and have a watchful eye over their progress.
The fourth Genet came in after homeowners in Faerie Glen, Pretoria noticed it in their garden. By the end of the day, when no adult had returned, they picked it up and tried to feed it milk.
By the time this one got to SAWRC it was on death’s door. It was rushed to the closest vet for emergency treatment and stabilisation. From there, the kitten was taken through to the main clinic where within a few days it was feeding and responding perfectly.
Wildlife have less and less safe open areas in Gauteng
Unfortunately, there are less and less suitably safe open areas within Gauteng to release wildlife like Serval which are now listed as Threatened or Protected species – TOPS. Many of the open areas are surrounded by busy roads which cats and other wildlife will at some point cross to find food or a mate.
Numbers in all wild cat species appear to be in decline. Main issues affecting wildlife in Gauteng’s open areas include habitat loss, human wildlife conflict, pollution, snares and poachers, inadequate food or water supply, veld fires, human interference and pesticides.
SAWRC often receive calls to trap and relocate the smaller cats like Genets, Servals and Caracals due to them predating on farmers chickens or livestock. Genets more frequently find themselves in areas surrounded by houses and domestic animals. Dogs go crazy when they spot or smell a Genet moving through the trees and in turn, neighbours complain about the noise of the dogs.
When you happen to come across these wild cats, please leave them in their chosen habitat or contact The South African Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (SAWRC) if they are threatened or need to be relocated.