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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Very little is known about the biology and behaviour of this species in the wild, with most information coming from captive individuals (6). This nocturnal hunter is believed to be a solitary species that scent-marks its territory. Dens are constructed under large tree trunks, in caves and in dense brush, or may be located high in the canopy in tree hollows or on sheltered branches (7). The Owston's civet leaves its den around dusk to feed on earthworms, which appear to form the bulk of the natural diet (5), as well as small vertebrates, invertebrates, including fish, frogs and insects and fruit (3) (4). Prey is predominantly found on the ground, where this animal's long snout is used to unearth its meal (5). All information on the reproduction of Owston's civet is derived from captive specimens. In captivity, mating usually occurs from January to March, although it may last until April or May (3) (4). After a 75 to 87 day gestation period, a litter of one to three young are born, and females can produce one litter a year (3) (4).
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Description

Owston's civet has an elongate body, neck and tail, small head and long, tapering, whiskered snout (5). The coat is tawny buff-grey with a contrasting pattern of black or brown longitudinal stripes on the head, neck and shoulders, transverse black or brown bands on the back and tail, and scattered black spots on the sides and limbs (2) (5) (6). Owston's civets are easily identified by four dark dorsal bands, and the last two thirds of the tail are completely black (2). The civet's underside is pale creamy white and in males this is suffused with orange from the chest to the groin. In females, the orange coloration occurs mainly around their genitalia. (2) (7).
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Owston's palm civet (Chrotogale owstoni)

Owston's palm civet (Chrotogale owstoni) lives in forests and wooded lowland river basins of northern and central Vietnam, northern and central parts of Laos (Lao PDR) and southern China in the southern Yunnan and southwest Guangxi provinces. The population in Vietnam occurs from the most northern provinces in the Hoang Lien Son mountains and northern limestone highlands and throughout the northern and central Annamites. It has not been found west of the Mekong river. There have been unconfirmed village reports in the Southern Annamites and the range may extend into Cambodia. The civet has been recorded in lowland and montane evergreen forests, broadleaf forests over limestone, bamboo forest, heavily degraded forest and forest edges. It prefers densely vegetated habitats near lowland water sources in primary and secondary broadleafed, evergreen forests (3,5,10,11). Its range in eastern Laos is thought to be associated with the extent of wet evergreen forest in the eastern Annamites (9).

The civet is named after the wildlife collector Alan Owston (2).

This palm civet is a medium-sized palm civet at 50-64 cm, plus a tail of 43 cm (17 in). The average mass is 2-3.25 kg. It has an elongate body, neck and tail, small head and long, tapering, whiskered snout (5) and is sometimes thought to resemble a large shrew. The teeth are small. The broad, close-set incisors are arranged in a semicircle, unlike other carnivores (7), but Grzimek (8) says the species has a similar dentition to that of H. derbyanus, due to their similar diet. The tawny buff-grey coat has a contrasting pattern of black or brown longitudinal stripes on the head, neck and shoulders, transverse black or brown bands on the back and tail and scattered black spots on the sides and limbs. There are usually 4 dark bands on the back. The last two-thirds of the tail are completely black. The underparts are pale creamy white; in males this is suffused with orange midventrally from the chest to the groin. In females, the orange coloration occurs mainly around their genitalia. The civet resembles the banded palm civet (Hemigalus derbyanus), but the hairs on the back of the neck are not reversed in direction and there are rows of small, black spots on its neck, sides and limbs, while the tail is dark for its last two-thirds.

Much of the knowledge about the animal's biology and behaviour is based on captive animals (3). This species is said to be largely terrestrial (5), but can climb trees to find food, rest and sleep (4,10). Local hunters said it may approach houses to feed on kitchen wastes, showing that it may survive near villages (11). This nocturnal hunter seems is believed to be a solitary species that scent-marks its territory. It constructs dens under large tree trunks, in caves and in dense brush or may be located high in the canopy in tree hollows or on sheltered branches (4). It leaves its den around dusk to hunt until early the next morning (10). Earthworms seem to form the bulk of the natural diet (5),10). It also eats small fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and other vertebrates, insects and other invertebrates, as well as fruit (6). Prey is predominantly found on the ground, where it uses its long snout to is used to dig insects and other food out of the soil (5). It also uses its forepaws to scratch at the ground to find food food (8,12). Captives may eat beef, chicken, and bananas (10). Captives usually mate occurs from January to March, although it may last until April-May or November (6). A litter of 1-3 young is born after a 60-87 day gestation period; females can produce one litter a year (6). The newborn young weighs around 75-88 g (10). A captive lived for over 12.7 years (13). IUCN lists the civet as Vulnerable due to an ongoing population decline, estimated to be over 30% over the last three generations (@ 15 years), inferred from over-exploitation and habitat destruction and degradation (1,11). Hunting is a severe threat and is estimated to greatly impact populations in most of the range, as the species is primarily ground-dwelling and is exposed to very high levels of snaring and other forms of ground-level trapping throughout its range (18). The civet is trapped for meat, body parts (including its bones, penis, scent gland and gall bladder) for traditional medicine, living trophies and skin, with an increased demand for civet meat in Chinese and Vietnamese markets (5,14-19). The civet occurs in several protected areas in China (the Dawei Mountain, Jinping Divide and Huanlian Mountain National Reserves) and 10 protected areas in Vietnam including the Cuc Phuong National Park and two in Laos (1,5,11,20). It may be locally abundant and locally scarce in different areas. The Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program, based at Cuc Phuong National Park in Vietnam, runs an international conservation and breeding programme for them in cooperation with various zoos including Newquay Zoo (17,18). Little research has been conducted on the species in the wild (17). The civet is protected in Yunnan province, but not in Guangxi (20), whilst in Vietnam it is listed in group IIB meaning exploitation is regulated but not prohibited. It is the flagship species for the Small carnivore Conservation Program of Cuc Phuong National Park in Vietnam. The Owston's Palm Civet Programme developed a more multifaceted approach to conserve small carnivores in Vietnam (17) and has become the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program . It has taken in civets seized by forest protection rangers from illegal wildlife traders (19).
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Distribution

Chrotogale owstoni is found in southern Yunan and southwest Guangxi provinces in China; northern Vietnam; and northern Laos.

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )

  • Schreiber, A. 1989. Weasels, Civets, Mongooses, and Their Relatives : an action plan for the conservation of mustelids and viverrids. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.
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Range Description

This species is known to occur in northern and central provinces of Lao PDR (Duckworth et al.1999, Johnson et al. 2004), Viet Nam and southern China in Yunnan and Guangxi provinces (CITES 1997; Wang Ying-Xiang pers. comm.). Northern and central Viet Nam appear to hold the largest area of this species distribution range (Long and Roberton in prep., Roberton et al. in prep.) occurring from the most northern provinces in the Hoang Lien Son mountains and northern limestone highlands and throughout the northern and central Annamites (Long and Roberton in prep.; Rozhnov et al. 1992; Long et al., 2004). It has not been found west of the Mekong river (Corbet and Hill 1992, Rozhnov et al. 1992). In the Southern Annamites, the potential range is based on the occurrence of suitable forest type and elevation, unconfirmed village reports and similarly distributed species but there is no confirmed data from this area (Roberton et al. in prep.). The range may also potentially extend into Cambodia for the same reasons, and two stuffed individuals have been seen in the Phnom Tamao zoo collection of stuffed mounts, yet lack any information on their source (Long and Roberton, in prep.)
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Range

Known from northern and central Vietnam, northern Laos, and southern China's southern Yunnan and southwest Guangxi provinces (2) (5).
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Physical Description

Morphology

The body form and markings of Owston's palm civet are similar to those of the banded palm civet, Hemigalus derbyanus, but without neck-hairs that are reversed in direction. Both species have a pattern of stripes and bands arranged longitudinally in dark and light crescents over their body and tail (four dorsal bands seem to be the maximum number for C. owstoni), but unlike H. derbyanus, C. owstoni has rows of small, black spots on its neck, sides, and limbs as well as a tail that is dark for its last two-thirds. On the otherwise pale underside of C. owstoni, a narrow, orange line is situated mid-ventrally from the chest to the groin (Nowak 1997). The head of C. owstoni is fairly small with a long tapering snout containing small teeth (Kanchanasakha et alia 1998). The incisors are close-set, broad, and arranged in a semicircle, a unique, distinguishable characteristic from the rest of the viverrids and even carnivores (Nowak 1997). Contrastingly, Grzimek's states that the species has a similar dentition to that of H. derbyanus, related to their similarity in diet (Grzimek 1990).

Average mass: 2-3 kg.

Average length: 50-64 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Average mass: 3250 g.

  • Grzimek, B. 1990. Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Kanchanasakha, B., S. Simcharoen, U. Than. 1998. Carnivores of Mainland South-East Asia. Bangkok: Endangered Species Unit, WWF-Thailand Project Office.
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Ecology

Habitat

This species is said to be largely terrestrial, however it has been documented to climb into trees in search of food (Nowak 1999). It prefers densely vegetated habitats near water sources in both primary and secondary forests (Nowak 1999, Schreiber 1989). Local hunters state that the species may approach houses to feed on kitchen wastes, showing that C. owstoni may survive near villages (Schreiber 1989).

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest

Other Habitat Features: riparian

  • Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. 6th ed. v.1. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The habitat use and general ecology of this species are poorly known. It has been recorded in lowland and montane evergreen forests, broadleaf forests over limestone, bamboo forest, heavily degraded forest and forest edges (Duckworth et al, 1999; Timmins and Cuong 2001; Johnson et al. 2004; Long and Roberton, in prep; Wang Ying-Xiang pers. comm.). The range restriction of Owston’s civet in eastern Lao PDR is thought to be associated with the extent of wet evergreen forest in the eastern Annamites (Timmins and Cuong 2001).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Owston's civet prefers densely vegetated habitats near lowland water sources, in both primary and secondary broadleafed, evergreen forest (5) (6). Although this species is thought to be largely terrestrial (5), they are also known to search for food, rest and even sleep in trees (7).
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Trophic Strategy

The natural diet of C. owstoni consists largely of earthworms (Nowak 1999); however, small vertebrates, invertebrates, and some fruit may also be included in their diet. In captivity the species has been shown to eat beef, chicken, and bananas (Nowak 1999). C. owstoni is a nocturnal hunter, beginning roughly at dusk and returning to its den early the next morning (Nowak 1999). It feeds both terrestrially and in trees aided by its long snout, which is used as a digging tool for invertebrates under leaves and loose soil. C. owstoni also uses its forepaws to scratch at the ground in search of food (Grzimek 1990, Kanchanasakha et al. 1998).

Animal Foods: mammals; amphibians; reptiles; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods

Plant Foods: fruit

Primary Diet: carnivore (Vermivore)

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Associations

Known prey organisms

Chrotogale owstoni preys on:
Insecta

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Observations: Not much is known about the longevity of these animals. One specimen was still living in captivity at 12.7 years of age (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

Based on information gathered from captive animals, mating usually occurs in January and March; however, it may last until November. There is a 60-day gestation period, and each female has one to two litters each year containing one to three young per litter. Newborn C. owstoni weigh around 75-88 grams (Nowak 1999).

Breeding season: January-March (sometimes lasts until November)

Range number of offspring: 1 to 3.

Average gestation period: 60 days.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous

Average birth mass: 81.5 g.

Average gestation period: 61 days.

Average number of offspring: 2.

  • Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. 6th ed. v.1. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Due to the restricted the range of this species, habitat destruction and over-hunting are believed to have an impact on populations of C. owstoni. Without sufficient information on the species in the wild, there can be no exact conservation status. Nevertheless, IUCN has placed Chrotogale on its Red List as Vulnerable, and CITES lists it in Appendix II (Zoos Victoria, 2001).

C. owstoni occurs in several protected areas in China (the Dawei Mountain National Reserve, Jinping Divide National Reserve, and Huanlian Mountain National Reserve) and one protected area in Vietnam (the Cuc Phuong National Park) (Schreiber 1989). A conservation study of C. owstoni has been established in Cuc Phuong National park by the Flora and Fauna Institute (Zoos Victoria, 2001).

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix ii

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A2cd

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Roberton, S., Timmins, R.J., Long, B., Wang Ying-Xiang & Tran Quang Phuong

Reviewer/s
Duckworth, J.W. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is listed as Vulnerable because of an ongoing population decline, estimated to be more than 30% over the last three generations (estimated at 15 years), inferred from over-exploitation, and habitat destruction and degradation. Hunting is a severe threat and is estimated to greatly impact populations in most of the range, because the species is primarily ground-dwelling and so is exposed to the very high levels of snaring and other forms of ground-level trapping throughout its range.

History
  • 1996
    Vulnerable
  • 1994
    Indeterminate
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Insufficiently Known
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Insufficiently Known
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).
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Population

Population
Population status is poorly known across its range. It has been said that this species does not seem to be as abundant as other civet species in the region such as Paguma larvata, Paradoxurus hermaphroditus, Viverricula indica and Viverra zibetha (Veron et al. 2004). Within some parts of its range it is clearly scarce, e.g. In Quang Nam province in the central Annamites of Viet Nam only two animals were photographed during a camera trapping survey (Long et al. 2004). Despite concerns that this species was not at all common, Bourret (1944) determined it was locally common, and even considered it the most common civet between the Fansipan mountains and the Black river in northern Viet Nam. Two more recent trapping studies, one in the Hoang Lien mountains in northwestern Viet Nam and one in Pu Mat National Park in the northern Annamites this civet to be one of the most commonly photographed small carnivores in these areas (Lei Pu Long et al. in prep; SFNC 2000). It therefore may best be considered locally abundant and locally scarce

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Habitat loss and degradation were assessed as the major threats to Owston’s civet when it was still effectively unknown in the west (Schreiber et al. 1989). Throughout its distribution this species is threatened by intensive snare trapping for meat, traditional medicine, living trophies and skin, and there has been an increased demand for civet meat in Chinese and Viet Namese markets (Bell et al. 2004; Lyman et al. 2005; Long and Roberton in prep.). Although habitat fragmentation magnifies the impact of hunting on populations, insight on the direct effects of habitat factors is thus far limited.
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The exact conservation status of Owston's civet is unknown, as little research has been conducted on the species in the wild (8). However, this civet is believed to be under serious threat due to its restricted range, habitat destruction, and over-hunting for its meat and body parts to be used in traditional medicine (5) (8) (9). Owston's civet is highly vulnerable to snare trapping, which is widespread across its range, due to its ground-dwelling nature (9). Civet meat is eaten and sold to restaurants, while body parts (including its bones, penis, scent gland and gall bladder) are used for traditional medicine and the beautiful pelts are sold to taxidermists or kept as trophies (10).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Due to its restricted distribution and possible high level of threat, the Owston's civet is of conservation concern (Veron et al. 2004; Long and Roberton in prep.). This species was listed as ‘Threatened’ in the IUCN Action Plan for the Conservation of Mustelids and Viverrids (Schreiber et al., 1989). This species is listed as Endangered on the China Red List and Vulnerable in the Viet Nam Red Book (MOSTE 2000). It is protected in Yunnan province, but not in Guangxi (GMA Small Carnivore Workshop 2006), whilst in Viet Nam the species is listed in group IIB meaning exploitation is regulated but not prohibited (Decree 32/2006/ND-CP).

A successful international breeding program, coordinated from Viet Nam, has been established with populations in Europe, Viet Nam and soon in North America and the species has been the flagship species for the Small carnivore Conservation Program of Cuc Phuong National Park in Viet Nam for the last 10 years (Roberton, S. pers comm. Heard Rosenthal, 1999).

It is likely to be present in protected areas throughout its distribution, and has been confirmed in 10 protected areas in Viet Nam (Roberton et al. in prep.), two in Lao PDR and three in China (GMA Small Carnivore Workshop 2006).
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Conservation

Owston's civet occurs in several protected areas in China, including the Dawei Mountain National Reserve, Jinping Divide National Reserve and Huanlian Mountain National Reserve (5), and ten protected areas in Vietnam, including Cuc Phuong National Park (3) (4). When five infants were taken into the care of Cuc Phuong National Park in 1995, the Owston's Palm Civet Programme was established to research the ecology and behaviour of the species before releasing them back into the park, where they would be monitored (9). After further research revealed that considerable illegal hunting continued in the National Park, increasing the risk to released animals, a captive breeding programme was initiated, which has been successfully producing and raising young most years since 1997 (9). In December 2004, the first six Owston's civets were sent to European zoos under a Breeding Loan Programme, in order to broaden and strengthen captive breeding of this species (8). The Owston's Palm Civet Programme later developed a more multifaceted approach to the conservation of this and other small carnivores in Vietnam. This included educational programmes, capacity building for forest rangers and zoo keepers, rescue, rehabilitation and development of placement options for small carnivores, captive research and field research (8). The programme has also taken in a number of civets seized by forest protection rangers from illegal wildlife traders (10). In 2005, this programme became the Small Carnivore Conservation Program (SCP) and from 2008 has become the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program (3) (4).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

C. owstoni is hunted in the forests of Northern Indochina for its meat and for its traditional medicinal properties.

Positive Impacts: food ; source of medicine or drug

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Wikipedia

Owston's palm civet

Owston's palm civet (Chrotogale owstoni) is a civet native to Vietnam, Laos and southern China. It is listed as Vulnerable by IUCN because of an ongoing population decline, estimated to be more than 30% over the last three generations (estimated at 15 years), inferred from over-exploitation, and habitat destruction and degradation.[1]

Chrotogale is a monospecific genus.[2] Owston's palm civet is named after the wildlife collector Alan Owston.[3]

Contents

Characteristics [edit]

The Owston's palm civet is a mid-sized palm civet at 57 cm (23 in), plus a tail of 43 cm (17 in). With its pointed face, it is sometimes thought to resemble a large insectivore, such as a shrew. It has a tawny buff-grey body with highly contrasted black markings on its back and tail. They usually only have 4 bands on their back. The last two-thirds of the tail is completely black. They look somewhat like the banded palm civet, Hemigalus derbyanus, except for that the hair on the back of their neck are not reversed, and the Owston's has spots on its legs.[citation needed]

Distribution and habitat [edit]

Owston's palm civet lives in the forests and wooded lowland river basins of northern Vietnam, northern Laos and southern China.[citation needed]

Ecology and behaviour [edit]

Next to nothing is known about their life history in the wild, though limited information has been gathered on captive animals. They feed mostly on earthworms and other invertebrates. The mating season is apparently in late January. After a gestation period of 3 months, a litter of 1-3 young are born.[citation needed]

Conservation [edit]

In captivity [edit]

The Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program, based at Cuc Phuong National Park in Vietnam, runs an international conservation and breeding programme for them in cooperation with various zoos including Newquay Zoo.[citation needed]

References [edit]

  1. ^ a b Roberton, S., Timmins, R.J., Long, B., Wang Ying-Xiang & Tran Quang Phuong (2008). Chrotogale owstoni. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved {{{downloaded}}}.
  2. ^ Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 552. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  3. ^ Thomas, O. (1912). Two new Genera and a Species of Viverrine Carnivora. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London: 498–503.
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