Overview

Distribution

Sulawesi palm civets are found only on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. Verified range on the island includes the end of the Minahassa peninsula, the east peninsula, the southeast peninsula, and a small section of central Sulawesi. Few sighting or specimens have been recorded from central and southern Sulawesi.

Two other species of civets occur within Sulawesi palm civet range. Both the common palm civet and the Malay civet have been introduced to Sulawesi.

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: island endemic

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Range Description

The Sulawesi palm civet is endemic to Sulawesi (Wozencraft 2005), where it was previously thought to occur only in north and central parts of the island. It is now known to occur also in the southeast of Sulawesi, as individuals were recorded at Rawa Aopa National Park, Tanjung Peropa Wildlife Reserve and Mangolo Recreation Forest (Lee et al. 2003).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Sulawesi civets posses a soft, short, fine coat with brown coloration on the back and yellow brown coloration on the under parts. The breast may have a reddish tint. Vague darker spots are arranged along the back in two vertical rows on either side of the spine. Between seven and eleven light yellowish tail rings can also be present, but may be incomplete or irregularly spaced. The tip of the tail is darker. The face is brown with paler zones of hair around the eyes, in the ears, and along the upper lip.

Very few living specimens have been measured. The data presented here are based on two female specimens and one male. Body lengths for these females were 650 mm plus a 480 mm tail and 680 mm with a broken tail 445 mm long. Male body length was 715 mm with a 540 mm tail. Despite having a common name of “giant civet,” they are not unusually large for a civet, being similar in size to masked palm civets. They are, however, the largest wild carnivore on Sulawesi Females have a perineal scent gland behind their genetalia, but males seem to lack a perineal scent gland. The female gland characteristics are similar to those of masked palm civet. The only other taxa of palm civets in which males lack a scent gland is the genus Arctogalidia. Upper and lower cheek teeth run parallel rather than diverging towards the back.

Molecular evidence shows that Sulawesi civets are actually in the subfamily Hemigalinae instead of Paradoxurinae where they have been historically grouped. Its morphological similarities to the Paradoxurines are due to convergence. This puts Sulawesi civets closest relative as the otter civet.

Range mass: 3.85 to 6.1 kg.

Range length: 1130 to 1255 mm.

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

  • Lydekker, R. 1896. A Hand-book to the Carnivora, Part I. Cats, Civets, and Mungooses. London: Edward Lloyd, Limited.
  • Wemmer, C., J. West, D. Watling, L. Collins, K. Lang. 1983. External Characters of the Sulawesi Palm Civet, Macrogalidia musschenbroekii Schlegel 1879. Journal of Mammology, 64/1: 133-136. Accessed October 08, 2012 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/1380759.
  • Wilting, A., J. Fickel. 2012. Phylogenetic relationship of two threatened endemic viverrids from the Sunda Islands, Hose's civet and the Sulawesi civet. Journal of Zoology, 288/3: 184-190. Accessed December 08, 2012 at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-7998.2012.00939.x/pdf.
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Ecology

Habitat

Sulawesi palm civets preferred habitat is primary growth rain forest. Evidence suggests these civets are equally prevalent across elevations within its range. These habitats include upper montane rain forest and cloud forest, lower montane rain forest, and lowland rain forest. Sulawesi civets are also associated with farms, where they seek out chicken coops.

Range elevation: 0 to 2600 m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: rainforest ; mountains

Other Habitat Features: agricultural

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The ecology of the Sulawesi palm civet remains to be fully studied. It has been recorded in lowland forest, lower and upper montane forest, grasslands and near farms (Wemmer and Watling 1986; Whitten et al. 1987; Musser, 1987; Lee et al. 2003; Maneros pers. comm.). This species does not appear to be a habitat specialist as it is not restricted by elevation or disturbance regime, although all sites where it has been recorded in savanna, grassland, or agricultural areas surrounded by forest. It is, nevertheless more commonly found in forested as opposed to agricultural areas (Lee et al. 2003). This species feeds on small mammals, fruit, and occasionally takes birds and farm animals, as well as grass. It is also suggested that they have a home range of about 150 ha (Lee et al. 2003).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Trophic Strategy

Sulawesi palm civets are omnivores, subsisting on a variety of animal prey and fruits. Scat analysis showed small rodents and birds to be the highest content, but fruits probably provide a larger portion of the diet and are more completely digested. Prey attributed to Sulawesi palm civets include the Sulawesi cuscus, piglets of the Sulawesi warty pig, various members of the 28 species of rodents found on Sulawesi, chickens, and megapodes including Macrodephalon maleo, as well as bird eggs. When consuming a bird, the Sulawesi civet eats the entire animal, including most of the feathers and the feet. In its fugivorus capacity, Sulawesi palm civets are more of a specialist on palm fruits than the Malay civet. Additional fruit foods include cultivated bananas and papayas. Grass was also found in scats, probably eaten for its fibrous benefits.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; eggs

Plant Foods: leaves; fruit

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates, Eats eggs); herbivore (Frugivore ); omnivore

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Associations

These civets are good dispersers of seeds given their preference for palm fruits and the large range of forest types they are found in on Sulawesi. They are also an important predator as the largest mammalian carnivore on the island.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

  • Corlett, R. 2007. The Impact of Hunting on the Mammalian Fauna of Tropical Asian Forests. Biotropica, 39/3: 292-303.
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As the largest native predator on Sulawesi, this civet does not have conspicuous anti-predator adaptions. Number killed by humans and other mortality statistics are unknown.

Known Predators:

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Known prey organisms

Macrogalidia musschenbroekii preys on:
Bubalus depressicornis

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

Behavior

Unlike Malay civets, Sulawesi palm civets do not make latrines to mark territory with repeated defecation in the same place. They do leave scratch markings on trees 2 m or so from the ground. Females have a perineal scent gland, most likely for within species communication.

Communication Channels: visual ; chemical

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan of the Sulawesi civet is unknown. Other civets have lifespans of 5 to 20 years.

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Reproduction

The reproductive biology of these civets has yet to be studied.

Reproductive behavior of this little known viverrid is still unknown. It is likely similar to other civets, but because Sulawesi civets are monotypic in its genus and possibly grouped in the wrong subfamily it is difficult to compare them to other species. In general, other civets have one to two litters of one to three young per year, with a gestation period of 30 to 60 days. Time to sexual maturity is about one year.

Breeding interval: The breeding interval for Sulawesi civets is unknown.

Breeding season: The mating season for Sulawesi civets is unknown.

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

Females care for the young and have two pairs of nipples. It is possible that mother and young share some territory. It is unlikely that males participate in parental care, but this is not known for sure.

Parental Investment: female parental care

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Conservation

Conservation Status

Population estimates are difficult because of data limitations and their reclusive nature. The lower elevation forest habitat of the Sulawesi civet is at risk from extensive logging. The high elevation forest is less at risk due to the difficulty of access for humans. Some suggest that these civets could be at risk from hunting, but the native peoples of Sulawesi do not harvest civets due to their distasteful perineal gland. When hunting does occur it takes place in the lowland range of the civet. Sulawesi civets live in several protected areas: including The Dumoga Bone National Park, Gunung Ambang Reserve, Tangkoko-Batuangas Reserve, Lore Lindu Reserve, and Morowali Reserve.

CITES: no special status

  • Brooks, T., S. Pimm, V. Kapos, C. Ravilious. 1999. Threats from deforestation to montane and lowland birds and mammals in insular South-east Asia. Journal of Animal Ecology, 68/6: 1061-1078.
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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A2c

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Meijaard, E., MacKinnon, J., Jennings, A.P. & Veron, G.

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 due to population decline estimated to be more than 30% over the last three generations (suspected to be 15 years) inferred from habitat destruction and degradation. Very little is known about this species and although it has been found in some degraded areas it is plausible that these are marooned individuals in fragmented areas and/or dispersing from nearby areas of native forest habitat. It has been estimated that well over 50% of the island’s total forest has been lost in the past 15 years (World Bank 2001) - so it may be an optimistic inference that there has been only a 30% loss in population based on the possibility that it persist in some mosaic landscapes.

History
  • 1996
    Vulnerable
  • 1994
    Rare
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Rare
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Rare
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
  • 1986
    Rare
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
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Population

Population
The population status of the Sulawesi palm civet is unknown. Records of this species are scarce due to its solitary nature and nocturnal habits (Lee et al. 2003) compounded by a lack of spotlighting surveys, that would presumably find the species. It is known from 28 individuals, 14 of which were recorded in the 19th century, while the most recent records are from Mount Klabat in North Sulawesi and Lore Lindu National Park in Central Sulawesi (Wemmer et al. 1983; Wemmer and Watling 1986). It appears to be more common in forests than in agricultural areas (Lee et al. 2003).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Little is known of threats to the Sulawesi palm civet but it is suspected to be threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, as Sulawesi has one of the highest rates of forest loss in the world (Myers 1992). Between 1985 and 1997 the northern peninsula of Sulawesi experienced a forest loss of 58.5%, 72.3% for the central peninsula, and 67.3% for the southeastern peninsula (World Bank 2001). Although this species appears to be a generalist that can probably tolerate some degree of disturbed habitat, there is no good evidence that populations can survive independent of tall forest. The fragmentation of forested lands will likely limit movement (Lee et al. 2003) and could expose these animals to greater mortality through increased interaction with humans as road kill and conflicts over taking small livestock (Duckworth pers. comm.).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The Sulawesi palm civet is known from several protected areas including Rawa Aopa National Park, Tanjung Peropa Wildlife Reserve, Mangolo Recreation Forest, and Lore Lindu National Park (Lee et al. 2003).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Sulawesi palm civets are known to raid chicken coops.

Negative Impacts: crop pest

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There is evidence that Sulawesi palm civets are sometimes eaten if caught accidentally. Their pelts are sometimes kept as trophies if killed raiding livestock or caught accidentally. They have no great economic value to humans and is not specifically sought out. Sulawesi palm civets could be considered a pest controller, because of the large portion of rodents in their diet.

Positive Impacts: controls pest population

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Wikipedia

Sulawesi palm civet

The Sulawesi palm civet (Macrogalidia musschenbroekii), also known as Sulawesi civet, musang and brown palm civet is a little-known palm civet endemic to Sulawesi. It is listed as Vulnerable by IUCN due to population decline estimated to be more than 30% over the last three generations (suspected to be 15 years) inferred from habitat destruction and degradation.[1]

Macrogalidia is a monospecific genus.[2]

Characteristics[edit]

The Sulawesi civet has a light brownish-chestnut coloured soft and short coat with numerous light hairs intermixed. The underparts vary from fulvous to white; the breast is rufescent. There is a pair of indistinct longitudinal stripes and some faint spots on the hinder part of the back. The whiskers are mixed brown and white. The tail is marked with alternating rings of dark and pale brown, which are indistinct on the under surface, and disappear towards the dark tip. The length of head and body is about 35 in (89 cm) with a 25 in (64 cm) long tail. The skull with the bony palate is much produced backwards, but otherwise resembles that of Paradoxurus hermaphroditus. The teeth differ from those of all the Paradoxurus species in that the two cheek-series run nearly parallel, in place of being widely diververgent posteriorly.[3]

The Sulawesi palm civet is a fairly large palm civet weighing about 3.8–6 kg (8.4–13 lb).[citation needed]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Sulawesi palm civets have been recorded in lowland forest, lower and upper montane forest, grasslands and near farms.[4] They appear to be more common in forests than in agricultural areas. Although they appear to be generalists that can probably tolerate some degree of disturbed habitat, there is no good evidence that populations can survive independent of tall forest.[5]

Ecology and behaviour[edit]

Sulawesi palm civets are omnivorous and feed on small mammals, fruit and grass. They occasionally take birds and farm animals. Their home range is estimated at about 150 ha (0.58 sq mi).[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Meijaard, E., MacKinnon, J., Jennings, A. P. and Veron, G. (2008). "Macrogalidia musschenbroekii". 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. 550. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  3. ^ Lydekker, R. (1896). A Hand-book to the Carnivora, Part I. Cats, Civets, and Mungooses. Edward Lloyd, Limited, London
  4. ^ Wemmer, C. and Watling, D. (1986). Ecology and status of the Sulawesi palm civet. Biological Conservation 35: 1–17.
  5. ^ a b Lee, R. J., Riley, J., Hunowu, I. and Maneasa, E. (2003). The Sulawesi palm civet: Expanded distribution of a little known endemic viverrid. Oryx 37: 378–381.
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