IUCN threat status:

Endangered (EN)

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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]


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