The family Nandiniidae includes just a single species, the nocturnal, arboreal, mainly solitary, and somewhat secretive African Palm Civet (Nandinia binotata). African Palm Civets are among the most common small carnivores in forested regions throughout much of tropical Africa, although they are threatened by both habitat destruction and hunting by humans for food, traditional medicine, and fur for decorative uses (they are the most commonly sold carnivores in markets in Equatorial Guinea and Guinea), as well as to protect crops and poultry. They are found in rain forests and deciduous forests in West and Central Africa from Gambia to southwest Sudan and can also be found in some regions with montane and subtropical forest in northern Angola and eastern and southeastern Africa. They are common in coastal lowland forests and their range extends into montane forest as high as 2500 meters in both West Africa (Cameroon) and East Africa (Tanzania). In addition to rain forests, African Palm Civets are found in riparian forest, deciduous woodland, and savannah woodland, occurring not only in undisturbed forest but also in secondary forest and other disturbed woodlands.
At one time African Palm Civets were placed in the family Viverridae. By the mid-20th century, however, the species was moved to its own family based on several very distinctive morphological features, a taxonomic judgement that has been supported by subsequent phylogenetic analysis based on both molecular and morphological data (e.g., Eizirik et al. 2010).
African Palm Civets feed mainly on fruit, but also take some animal prey such as insects, bird eggs and nestlings, small rodents, and even carrion.
In parts of their range, African Palm Civets are sometimes kept as pets.
(Gaubert 2009 and references therein)
- Eizirik, E., W.J. Murphy, K.-P. Koepfli, et al. 2010. Pattern and timing of diversification of the mammalian order Carnivora inferred from multiple nuclear gene sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 56(1): 49-63.
- Gaubert, P. 2009. Family Nandiniidae (African Palm Civet). Pp. 50-53 in: Wilson, D.E. & Mittermeier, R.A., eds. Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Volume 1. Carnivores. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
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