Photographer: Michael Nichols, USA, National Geographic Magazine
Description : A serval cat hesitates momentarily on the banks of the Salamat river, Zakouma National Park, Chad. Servals are common though elusive predators living mainly in the African savannah. They feed chiefly on rodents. A long neck and legs, together with acute hearing, help the cat hunt in tall grass. Servals can even detect the sound of rodents burrowing underground, and will sometimes stand for up to fifteen minutes listening with their eyes shut while hunting
Comment from Maggie MacDonald, writer:
The serval cat's body is formed for the hunt: With large ears the serval stands, listening for prey, then lunges forth with a fast, lean form not easily evaded in the African savannah this cat calls home. The eyes of this serval are difficult to interpret: It seems the animal is curious, concerned, but not surprised by the sound of Mike Nichols' camera. It is impossible to know what the serval is feeling, and whether it even perceives the photographer as distinct from any other animal -- hunter or hunted. But to me, the look on the cat's face resembles the self-concious pain of a person who knows his livelihood teeters precariously, and that the future is uncertain at best.
--Maggie MacDonald is the Writer in Residence at Hart House at the University of Toronto. She is the author of the novel Kill The Robot (McGilligan Books, 2005). She wrote and co-directed the musical The Rat King. Currently, MacDonald plays with the bands The Hidden Cameras and The Republic of Safety, and works for the Climate Change Program at WWF-Canada.