Scientists in Tanzania have photographed a rare species of small African predator for the first time, confirming the survival of a creature previously known only from a single skin collected in 1932. The Lowe's servaline genet is a relative of the mongoose family, and is about three feet (one meter) long including the tail.
The photograph was taken by a team from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), based at the Bronx Zoo. They set up a camera trap that snapped the picture of the genet in Udzungwa Mountain National Park in Tanzania.
The Lowe's servaline genet is distinguished from the ten other species of genets by orange coloration in its white facial spots and lighter-colored feet and legs.
Little is known about this species of genet besides that it is probably nocturnal and tree-dwelling, like other species of genet, according to WCS researcher Daniela De Luca.
"Compared to larger carnivores, the smaller species such as genets and mongooses are very poorly understood," said De Luca, "so one of our aims is to shed more light on this important and secretive group of animals."
Genets usually eat insects, fruit, birds, and small rodents. They are thought to live for about ten years in the wild. Genets are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the Mediterranean coast of Africa, Spain, southern France, and parts of the Middle East.
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