Overview

Brief Summary

The nocturnal, arboreal, mainly solitary, and somewhat secretive African Palm Civet (Nandinia binotata) is the sole species in the genus Nandinia and family Nandiniidae. 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. 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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Distribution

Range Description

Widely distributed from Gambia to south-west Sudan, southern Uganda and western Kenya, and from northern Angola, and north-western Zambia to DR Congo and western Tanzania. Then discontinuously distributed in eastern and southern Africa in montane and lowland forests of Tanzania, Malawi, parts of Zimbabwe, and Mozambique, south to about 20°5’S (Van Rompaey and Ray in press). Also present on Bioko (Eisentraut 1973) and Zanzibar (Perkin 2005). Up to 2,500 m (Van Rompaey and Ray in press).
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Geographic Range

The species is common in most forested areas of East Africa.

Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

The Palm Civet is a very inconspicuous animal. The coarse, cryptically colored coat is blotched and mottled and blends with the rough bark of trees and the shadows cast by leaves. The eyes are yellow-green and the pupils close to a vertical hairline. The well muscled and sturdy tail, which is usually as long as the body, is employed as a brace when the forepaws are being used for prey. All four limbs are powerful. They exhibit highly flexible joints bound with thick sheets of connective tissue. The toes and palms of the feet have pink naked pads and an area of very thick skin, which acts as friction pad whenever the hindlimbs take weight of the body. It is a small animal with short legs, small ears, and a body resembling a cat.

Range mass: 1.7 to 2.1 kg.

Average basal metabolic rate: 5.565 W.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Occurs in deciduous forests, lowland rainforests and mountains, gallery and riverine forests, savanna woodlands, and logged and second-growth forests. Known to visit cultivated fields bordering forest edge (Van Rompaey and Ray in press). Predominantly frugivorous, although forages opportunistically for vertebrates and insects (Van Rompaey and Ray in press).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Civets are most common in forest areas of Eastern Africa. They will occasionally wander out of the forest to search for food. The typical shelter is a tree, where they spend most of their time.

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; scrub forest

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Rodents, insects, eggs, carrion, pineapples, fallen fruit, birds and fruit bats are part of the diet. While the Palm Civet has truly omnivorous tastes, it does not hunt prey such as adult birds and mammals when they are active. Instead, it visits roosts and hen yards to get an easy kill. Such things as rodents, insects, and fallen fruit are sought on level ground. The animal also travels a good distance out of the forest in search of food. They hold their food with the forepaws, and when in branches they twist their hindfeet about in a variety of positions in order to get a stable base so the forearms may be used to manipulate food. Living prey is held fast and killed with a series of fast, deadly bites; small mammals and birds are swallowed whole. Even though these animals do eat meat, they are omnivorous and their most common source of food is fruit.

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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
15.0 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
15.8 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 21 years (captivity) Observations: Captive specimens may live up to 21 years (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

Breeding takes place twice a year, with two birth seasons, once in May and the other in October. These months are during the wet season are followed by dry periods. The young are born after a 64 day gestation period in an arboreal shelter such as a hollow branch. Up to four young are born, but the average number is two. The female produces milk from as many teats as there are young, which means that each kitten uses a single nipple. The young purr like kittens when sucking. An interesting secretion is produced by the skin overlaying the mammary glands. It stains the fur of the belly a brilliant orange-yellow and rubs off on to the young. It appears to repel sexual approaches by males and/or neutralize attacks on the young.

Average gestation period: 64 days.

Average number of offspring: 2.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)

Sex: male:
1095 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
1095 days.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Nandinia binotata

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Van Rompaey, H., Gaubert, P. & Hoffmann, M.

Reviewer/s
Duckworth, J.W. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) and Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern as the species has a wide distribution range, is present in a variety of habitats, common across its range, and present in numerous protected areas. However, it is probably undergoing some localized declines due to habitat loss and hunting.

History
  • 1996
    Lower Risk/least concern
    (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
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A great number of these animals inhabit Africa and they seem not threatened in any way.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Population

Population
Widespread and locally abundant, and probably the most common African forest small carnivoran (Van Rompaey and Ray in press). In Gabon minimum average density was estimated at ca. 5/km² (Charles-Dominique 1978).

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
There are no major threats, although they may be undergoing some localized declines due to habitat loss. They are also commonly trapped or hunted for bushmeat and for traditional medicine. They were the most common carnivore recorded in two markets in Equatorial Guinea (Juste et al. 1995) as well as in Guinea (Colyn et al. 2004). In some regions, the fur is sought after to make ceremonial dresses (Malbrant and Maclatchy 1949) and to make wrist-bracelets, hats, and to cover the bow (Carpaneto and Germi 1989).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
They are present in many protected areas across the range.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Civets commonly raid chicken/turkey coops. This has caused many problems for farmers because palm civets are very persistent and they are abundant.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There is no recent reports of hunting or eating this animal, but this used to be popular in Bugisu.

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Wikipedia

African Palm Civet

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The African palm civet (Nandinia binotata), also known as the two-spotted palm civet, is a small mammal, with short legs, small ears, a body resembling a cat, and a long lithe tail as long as its body. Adults usually weigh 1.70 to 2.10 kg (3.7 to 4.6 lb). It is native to the forests of eastern Africa, where it usually inhabits trees. Its diet is omnivorous, and includes rodents, insects, eggs, carrion, fruit, birds and fruit bats. The animal is generally solitary and nocturnal.

Although resembling other civet species (in the family Viverridae) it has been suggested that the African palm civet is genetically distinct, and diverged from other civets before the cats did. They are therefore classified as the only species in genus Nandinia and in their own family, Nandiniidae, although this suggestion is not universally accepted.

References

  1. ^ Wozencraft, W. Christopher (16 November 2005). "Order Carnivora (pp. 532-628)". In Wilson, Don E., and Reeder, DeeAnn M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2 vols. (2142 pp.). ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3/browse.asp?id=14000472. 
  2. ^ Van Rompaey, H., Gaubert, P. & Hoffmann, M. (1996). Nandinia binotata. In: IUCN 1996. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 22 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern


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