Overview

Brief Summary

Otter civet (Cynogale bennettii)

The otter civet or mampalon is a semi-aquatic civet native to peninisular Thailand [3,9-11], Malaysia, Indonesia, Sumatra [3] and Borneo [12]. A very old record from Singapore [8] may involve an animal taken there or one with a trade locality; there is also a possible record from southern Yunnan, China in 1973 [12], so the civet may also occur in Lao PDR (13]. Its preferred habitat seems to be lowland primary dry and peat swamp forests [3,4] along the borders of streams and rivers [14], but it has also been recorded in freshwater swamp forest, limestone forest, secondary forest, bamboo and logged forest [3,12,17,18]. The civet is @ 705-880 mm. from head to tail (14) and weighs 3-5 kg. The fur ranges in color from pale close to the skin to almost black at the tips. The blackish fur is interspersed with longer gray hairs, giving a frosted look [14]. The many vibrissae, or whiskers, are very long and there are many of them [15]. The civet's adaptations include a long muzzle, broad mouth and wide, webbed feet with long claws and naked soles for swimming. The nostrils and ears can be closed with flaps [14]. The teeth resemble those of a seal. Two of the three premolars have jagged edges. The wide molars have many ridges. The tooth pattern is differs from the typical secodont dentition of most carnivores (16). The otter civet is nocturnal, terrestrial, semiaquatic and secretive [3,4], but may be active by day [4]. It gets most of its food from the water [9,19,20], so never strays far from water [15]. It eats fish, crabs and freshwater molluscs, as well as small mammals and birds [9,21], which it may capture as the prey drinks from the edges of streams and rivers. It may lie in wait for its prey, skimming the surface of the water [21]. It can climb to feed on birds and fruit. Males have scent glands near their genitals and these may play a role in reproduction [14]. Females have 2-3 young per season. The young are born without the frosted hairs on their backs and may still be with their mother in May. Captives may live for 5.2 years [22]. The civet is listed as Endangered and is on CITES Appendix II [1,11], due to a serious ongoing population decline, estimated to be over 50% over the past three generations (about 15 years), inferred from direct habitat destruction and indirect inferred declines due to pollutants [1]. Major threats include converting peat swamp forests to oil palm plantations using clear-cut logging [3]. Selective logging may alter the habitat so that the civet can't survive there [3,17]. The civet also faces competition from better adapted species [14]. The civet occurs in many protected areas including Samunsam Wildlife Sanctuary in western Sarawak [4], Kaeng Krachan National Park in Thailand, Bukit Sarang Conservation Area in Sarawak [12], Way Kambas National Park in Sumatra [3], Danau Sentarum National Park [24] and Leuser National Park in Sumatra [25](van Strien, 1996).
There is no evidence that the civet is specifically hunted, but this ground-dwelling species is exposed to snares and other ground-level traps set for other species [1]. Civet oil or civet is secreted from the glands in the genital area and has been used for centuries in the perfume industry. It is refined and processed into the base of perfume [10]. The supposed origin of Lowe's otter civet (C. lowei), known from one holotype found in 1926 in northern Vietnam, has not been confirmed.[3]
  • 1. Duckworth, J. W., Sebastian, T., Jennings, A. and Veron, G. (2008). "Cynogale bennettii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  • 10. Gould, E., G. McKay. [1998]. Encyclopedia of Mammals Second Edition. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  • 11. Schreiber, A., Wirth, R., Riffel, M. and Van Rompaey, H. (1989). Weasels, civets, mongooses, and their relatives. An Action Plan for the conservation of mustelids and viverrids. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.
  • 12. Belden, Giman, Robert Stuebing and Megom NYEGANG (2007). Small carnivores in mixed-use forest in Bintulu Division, Sarawak, Malaysia. Small Carnivore Conservation, Vol. 36: 35–37, April 2007.
  • 13. Duckworth, J. W., Salter, R. E. and Khounboline, K. compilers (1999) Wildlife in Lao P.D.R.: 1999 status report. Vientiane: IUCN, Wildlife Conservation Society and the Centre for Protected Areas and Watershed Management.
  • 14. Nowak, R. (1999). Walker's Mammals of the World Sixth Edition Vol. 1. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press
  • 15. Burton, J., B. Pearson (1987). The Collins Guide to the Rare Mammals of the World. Lexington, MA: Stephen Greene Press.
  • 16. Parker, S. (1990). Grimzek's Encyclopedia of Mammals Vol 3. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill INC..
  • 17. Heydon, M. J. & Bulloh, P. (1996). The impact of selective logging on sympatric civet species in Borneo. Oryx 30: 31–3618. Franklin 2001
  • 19. Medway, L. (1978). The wild mammals of Malaya and Singapore. Second edition. Oxford University Press. Oxford.
  • 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.
  • 20. Yasuma, S. [1994]. An invitation to the mammals of East Kalimantan. PUSREHUT and JICA, Samarinda, Indonesia.
  • 21. Parker, S. (1990). Grimzek's En­cy­clo­pe­dia of Mam­mals Vol 3. New York, NY: Mc­Graw-Hill INC..
  • 22. Wegl, Richard (2005). Longevity of mammals in captivity; from the Living Collections of the world
  • 23. Groombridge, B. (ed.) (1994). 1994 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.
  • 24. Jeanes, K. and Meijaard, E. (2000). Danau Sentarum's wildlife. Part 1. Biodiversity value and global importance of Danau Sentarum's wildlife. Borneo Research Bulletin 31: 150-229.
  • 25. van Strien, N. [1996]. The mammal fauna of Gunung Leuser National Park. In: C. P. van Schaik and J. Supriatna (eds), Leuser. A Sumatran sanctuary, pp. 132-202. Yayasan Bina Sains Hayati Indonesia, Depok, Indonesia.
  • 3. Veron, G., Gaubert, P., Franklin, N., Jennings, A. P. and Grassman Jr., L. I. (2006). A reassessment of the distribution and taxonomy of the Endangered otter civet Cynogale bennettii (Carnivora: Viverridae) of South-east Asia. Oryx 40: 42–49.
  • 4. Sebastian, A. C. (2005). Sighting of a Sunda Otter Civet Cynogale bennettii in Sarawak. Small Carnivore Conservation 33: 24–25.
  • 5. Giman, B., Stuebing, R., Megum, N., Mcshea, W. J., Stewart, C. M. (2007). A camera trapping inventory for mammals in a mixed use planted forest in Sarawak. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 55: 209–215.
  • 6. Wilting, A., Samejima, H., Mohamed, A. (2010). Diversity of Bornean viverrids and other small carnivores in Deramakot Forest Reserve, Sabah, Malaysia. Small Carnivore Conservation 42: 10–13.
  • 7. Cheyne, S. M., Husson, S. J., Macdonald, D. W. (2010). First Otter Civet Cynogale bennettii photographed in Sabangau Peat-swamp Forest, Indonesian Borneo. Small Carnivore Conservation 42: 25–26.
  • 8. Meiri, S. (2005). Small carnivores on small islands: new data based on old skulls. Small Carnivore Conservation 33: 21-23.
  • 9. Lekagul, B. and Mcneely, J. A. (1988). Mammals of Thailand. White Lotus Press, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • A list of mammalian longevity in captivity. Kleine Senckenberg-Reihe, Band 48
  • Joshi, A., J. Smith, F. Cuthbert. November, 1995. Journal of Mammalogy, 76: 1205-1212.
  • Kanchanasakha, B. (1998). Carnivores of Mainland South East Asia. WWF, Bangkok. ISBN 974-89438-2-8
  • Other references
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Distribution

Cynogale bennettii, more commonly known as the otter civet or mampalon, inhabits the Malay Penninsula and the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. They may also occur in southern Thailand.

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )

  • Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World Sixth Edition Vol. 1. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.
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Range Description

The otter civet has a Sundaic distribution and is found in Malaysia, Indonesia (Sumatra, Borneo), Thailand and apparently, far from the Sundaic region, northern Viet Nam (Tonkin, which is the type locality of Cynogale lowei) (Veron et al. 2006). There is one very old record from Singapore (Meiri 2005) but there is no evidence that this involved an animal taken there, rather than one with a trade locality (B.Y.P.H. Lee in litt. to J. W. Duckworth 2007).

Lekagul and McNeeley (1977) listed the species in southern Thailand, but there were no confirmed records until 1992 (Kanchanasaka pers. comm.). Another record in Kaeng Krachan National Park in 1998 confirms its presence in southern Thailand (Anon 1998). There is also an unconfirmed sighting from northern Thailand from Phu Kradung National Park in 1986 (Schreiber 1989; Veron et al. 2006), which should be viewed with skepticism until corroborated, as it would take the species range out of the purely Sundaic pattern is shows by all other records and it is based on an unverified local report.

Recent records of this species from Borneo include sightings in Sarawak (Sebastian 2005; Belden et al. 2007s) and in Sabah (Veron et al. 2006). The otter civet has been recorded as high as 1,370 m above Bario in Sarawak, but the majority of records are from lowland forest (Veron et al, 2006).There are some camera trap pictures of this species in Sumatra (Veron et al. 2006). There is also a possible record from a fisherman's house near Yilong Lake in southern Yunnan, China in 1973, which is of unknown provenance (Schreiber et al. 1989). If the species does actually occur in both northern Thailand and Yunnan (China), then it is likely to also occur in Lao PDR (Duckworth et al. 1999).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Otter civets are approximately 705-880 mm. from head to tail (Nowak 1999). The fur ranges in color from pale close to the skin to almost black at the tips. The blackish fur is interspersed with longer gray hairs, giving it a frosted look (Nowak 1999). The vibrissae, or whiskers, are very long and there are many of them (Burton and Pearson 1987). Cynogale bennettii is a prime example of the diversification and specializations that have arisen in the family Viverridae (Joshi et al. 1995).

Cynogale bennettii possess several features which suit its aquatic lifestyle. Their nostrils can be closed with flaps, as can their ears (Nowak 1999). Their feet are webbed and rather wide for swimming. Their teeth show similarities to those of a seal. Otter civets have three premolars, two of which have jagged edges. The molars are wide with many ridges. The tooth pattern is different from the typical secodont dentition of most carnivores (Parker 1990).

Range mass: 3 to 5 kg.

Range length: 705 to 880 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

  • Burton, J., B. Pearson. 1987. The Collins Guide to the Rare Mammals of the World. Lexington, MA: Stephen Greene Press.
  • Joshi, A., J. Smith, F. Cuthbert. November, 1995. Journal of Mammalogy, 76: 1205-1212.
  • Parker, S. 1990. Grimzek's Encyclopedia of Mammals Vol 3. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill INC..
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Ecology

Habitat

Due to its semi-aquatic nature, Cynogale bennettii resides in swampy wetlands and borders of streams and rivers in tropical Southeast Asia and Indonesia (Nowak 1999). Otter Civets are terrestrial animals, but will never stray too far from water (Burton et al. 1987).

Terrestrial Biomes: rainforest

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Little is known of the habitat and ecology of the otter civet and further studies are required. This species is thought to be largely confined to peat swamp forests, though there are recent records from lowland dry forest (Sebastian 2005). Preferred habitat appears to be lowland primary forest, but it has been recorded in secondary forest, bamboo, and logged forest (Heydon and Bulloh 1996; Franklin 2001; Veron et al. 2006), however, the long-term persistence of this species in these habitats is unknown (Veron et al. 2006). The otter civet has also been recorded from freshwater swamp forest and limestone forest, surrounded by acacia plantation in Bukit Sarang Conservation Area, Sarawak (Belden et al. 2007).

As the otter civet is semiaquatic (Veron et al, 2006) and known to forage in the water (Medway, 1978; Lekagul and McNeely 1977; Yasuma, 1994), it is assumed that this species feeds on fish, crabs, mollusks, small mammals, and birds (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). It is also thought to be nocturnal (Sebastian, 2005), though there is data indicating it is also occasionally active during the day (see data from N. Franklin; G. Veron pers. comm. 2006; Sebastian 2005).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Trophic Strategy

Judging from the Otter Civet's dention patterns, scientists believe the diet consists of fish, mollusks, crayfish, small mammals, and birds (Parker 1990). Cynogale bennettii is also thought to capture small mammals and birds as the prey drinks from the edges of streams and rivers. It has been hypothesized that the Otter Civet lies in wait for its prey, actually skimming the surface of the water, much like a crocodile or alligator (Parker 1990).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
5.0 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
5.0 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Observations: In captivity, these animals have lived for 5.2 years (Richard Weigl 2005), though given the longevity of similar species this appears considerably underestimated. More detailed studies are needed to determine the maximum longevity of this species.
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Reproduction

Very little information exists on the breeding patterns of Cynogale bennettii. Females will generally have between two and three young per season. Young have been found still with their mothers in May. The young are born without the frosted hairs on their backs. Scent glands have been found near the genital areas of males, which may play a role in reproduction

(Nowak 1999).

Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual

Average number of offspring: 2.

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Conservation

Conservation Status

Experts hypothesize that otter civet populations may have declined by at least 50 percent. Suspected causes include habitat loss due to human settlement and agriculture. Competition from other more adapted species has also been mentioned (Nowak 1999).

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix ii

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
A2ce

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Duckworth, J.W., Sebastian, T., Jennings, A. & Veron, G.

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

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is listed as Endangered because of a serious ongoing population decline, estimated to be more than 50% over the past 3 generations (estimated to be 15 years), inferred from direct habitat destruction, and indirect inferred declines due to pollutants. In so doing we also estimate that the species does not use severely degraded and converted areas to any significant degree. Although the species is poorly known, the forest habitats within its range have been reduced more than 50% in the last 3 generations (15 years) and are projected to deteriorate further in the next decade. Riverine habitats are increasingly polluted and disturbed. This species is found primarily in lowland forested habitats, with habitat specificity near streams, which are areas that have been increasingly converted to oil palm plantations. There remains uncertainty about the tolerance of the species to habitat loss, especially in areas where riverine forest remains in a mosaic of logged forest, and if viable populations are found to persist in such areas, then the red listing will need revision. There is a need to know more about life history and ecology of this species.

History
  • 1996
    Endangered
  • 1994
    Endangered
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Insufficiently Known
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Insufficiently Known
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
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Population

Population
There is very little known about the otter civet’s population trends and local abundance, and further studies are required (GMA Small Carnivore Workshop 2006). Sebastian (2005) reports that this species’ apparent rarity is puzzling, including a low detection frequency in heavily surveyed areas. There is a need to determine whether the species' rarity is due to sampling or methodology bias (possibly due to its habitat specificity) or due to naturally low densities (GMA Small Carnivore Workshop 2006). It is known from 75 total museum individuals: 40 from Borneo, 12 from Sumatra, and eight from Peninsular Malaysia (Schreiber et al. 1989; Veron et al. 2004). There have been 19 other sightings of this species in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand (Veron et al. 2006). There was an intensive survey that recorded this species 59 times during 3,920 camera trap days in Way Kamabas National Park in Sumatra between January 1996 and December 1998 (Veron et al. 2006).

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
Reduction in primary forest habitat has proceeded very fast throughout the lowland Sundaic region in the last 20 years (e.g. BirdLife International, 2001; Holmes, 2000; Jepson et al., 2001; McMorrow and Talip, 2001; Lambert and Collar, 2002; Curran et al. 2004; Fuller, 2004; Eames et al. 2005, Aratrakorn et al. 2006; Kinnaird et al. 2003). This has probably reduced populations of otter civets, and threatens its persistence (Veron et al. 2006). Clear-cut logging is one of the major factors contributing to decline in suitable habitat, and even selective logging may sufficiently alter habitat such that it is the species can no longer occupy it; combined, this loss of primary forest may be responsible for the current rarity of the otter civet (Veron et al. 2006). Heydon and Bulloh (1996) found that the abundance of civets (including palm civets, banded palm-civet, otter civet, terrestrial civets and linsangs) in northern Borneo was significantly lower in logged forest than in primary forest, with the most specialized civets, including the otter civet, being less tolerant of logged forests than generalist civets. Conversion of peat swamp forests to oil palm plantations is a major threat particularly to this species. There is no evidence that the species is specifically hunted, but as a ground-dwelling species it will be exposed to the snares and other ground-level taps set for other species. The numbers of animals caught and effects on populations, if any, are unknown.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The otter civet is listed in Appendix II of CITES and as ‘Threatened’ in the IUCN Action Plan for the Conservation of Mustelids and Viverrids (Schreiber et al. 1989). Conservation of this species requires protection of forest and riverine habitat, and policing against illegal harvesting of timber and hunting (Veron et al. 2006). There is a need to survey for this species to determine its tolerance to secondary habitats, including riverine areas in plantations and other areas that maintain some natural vegetation, as well as to further assess its distribution and monitor its populations. Live trapping and camera trapping are being done in Krau Wildlife Reserve in Peninsular Malaysia in order to study different species of small carnivores, and hopefully to detect the presence of the otter civet (Malaysia Carnivore Project 2005). The absence of recent records in Peninsular Malaysia is of great concern, and it is very important to know if some protected areas still harbor this species (G. Veron pers. comm., 2006).

This species is found in many protected areas throughout its range. Including Samunsam Wildlife Sanctuary in western Sarawak in 2000 (Sebastian, 2005), Kaeng Krachan National Park (12 57 N, 99 23 E) in Thailand in 1998 (Anon, 1998), Bukit Sarang Conservation Area in Sarawak (Belden et al. 2007), Way Kambas National Park in Sumatra (Veron et al, 2006), Danau Sentarum National Park (Jeanes and Meijaard 2000), and Leuser National Park in Sumatra (van Strien, 1996).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

From the glands in the genital area, civet oil or civet is secreted. This substance has been used for centuries in the perfume industry. It is refined and processed into the base of perfume (Gould et al. 1998).

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Wikipedia

Otter civet

The otter civet (Cynogale bennettii) is a semi-aquatic civet native to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. It is listed as Endangered because of a serious ongoing population decline, estimated to be more than 50% over the past three generations (estimated to be 15 years), inferred from direct habitat destruction, and indirect inferred declines due to pollutants.[1]

Cynogale is a monospecific genus.[2]

Characteristics[edit]

Skull and dentition, as illustrated in Gervais' Histoire naturelle des mammifères

The otter civet possesses several adaptations to its habitat, including a broad mouth and webbed feet with naked soles and long claws. Its muzzle is long with numerous long whiskers. It is in many ways similar to the Hose's palm civet (Diplogale hosei) but has a shorter tail and no whitish underparts.[citation needed]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Otter civets are distributed in Sumatra, Borneo and peninsular Thailand. Preferred habitat appears to be lowland primary forest, but they have also been recorded in secondary forest, bamboo and logged forest. The supposed origin of Lowe's otter civet (C. lowei) known only from one holotype found in 1926 in northern Vietnam was not confirmed.[3] They are thought to be largely confined to peat swamp forests, though there are recent records from lowland dry forest.[4]

In March 2005, an otter civet was camera trapped within an Acacia plantation in central Sarawak during 1,632 trap-nights.[5] Between July 2008 and January 2009, ten otter civets were photographed in an area of about 112 km2 (43 sq mi) in Sabah's Deramakot Forest Reserve, a lowland tropical rainforest in Borneo ranging in altitude from 60–250 m (200–820 ft).[6] In May 2009, the presence of otter civets was documented for the first time in central Kalimantan, where two individuals were photographed in the Sabangau Peat-swamp Forest at an elevation of about 11 m (36 ft).[7]

Ecology and behaviour[edit]

The otter civet is a nocturnal species that obtains most of its food from the water, feeding on fish, crabs and freshwater mollusks. It can also climb to feed on birds and fruit. Given its rarity and secretive nature it is a very poorly known species.[citation needed]

Threats[edit]

Conversion of peat swamp forests to oil palm plantations is a major threat. There is no evidence that the species is specifically hunted, but as a ground-dwelling species it is exposed to snares and other ground-level traps set for other species.[1] Clear-cut logging is one of the major factors contributing to decline in suitable habitat, and even selective logging may sufficiently alter habitat such that it is the species can no longer occupy it; combined, this loss of primary forest may be responsible for the current rarity of the otter civet.[3]

Conservation[edit]

Cynogale bennettii is listed in CITES Appendix II.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Duckworth, J. W., Sebastian, T., Jennings, A. and Veron, G. (2008). "Cynogale bennettii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
  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. ^ a b Veron, G., Gaubert, P., Franklin, N., Jennings, A. P. and Grassman Jr., L. I. (2006). A reassessment of the distribution and taxonomy of the Endangered otter civet Cynogale bennettii (Carnivora: Viverridae) of South-east Asia. Oryx 40: 42–49.
  4. ^ Sebastian, A. C. (2005). Sighting of a Sunda Otter Civet Cynogale bennettii in Sarawak. Small Carnivore Conservation 33: 24–25.
  5. ^ Giman, B., Stuebing, R., Megum, N., Mcshea, W. J., Stewart, C. M. (2007). A camera trapping inventory for mammals in a mixed use planted forest in Sarawak. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 55: 209–215.
  6. ^ Wilting, A., Samejima, H., Mohamed, A. (2010). Diversity of Bornean viverrids and other small carnivores in Deramakot Forest Reserve, Sabah, Malaysia. Small Carnivore Conservation 42: 10–13.
  7. ^ Cheyne, S. M., Husson, S. J., Macdonald, D. W. (2010). First Otter Civet Cynogale bennettii photographed in Sabangau Peat-swamp Forest, Indonesian Borneo. Small Carnivore Conservation 42: 25–26.
  • Kanchanasakha, B. (1998). Carnivores of Mainland South East Asia. WWF, Bangkok. ISBN 974-89438-2-8
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