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Overview

Distribution

Range Description

This species is found in Lao PDR (Duckworth, 1997), Peninsular Malaysia (Azlan, 2003; Kawanishi and Sunquist, 2004), Thailand (Rabinowitz, 1991; Austin and Tewes, 1999), Viet Nam (Boonratana , 2004; Long, and Minh Hoang 2006), Cambodia (J.L. Walston pers. comm.), China (Anhui, Shaanxi, Ganus, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Xisang, Guangxi, Gunagdong, Hainan, Fujian Zhejiang and Jiangsu), northeast India, Myanmar (Than Zaw et al. in press), Nepal, Bhutan, Singapore, (Pocock 1939, Corbet and Hill, 1992; Wozencraft, 2005). Introduced to the Andaman Islands (Lever, 1985).
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Geographic Range

Viverra zibetha, also known as the Indian civet, is found from Indochina to southern China. It is also found in Nepal, Bangladesh, the Malay Peninsula, Hainan, and Vietnam.

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Indian civets have large bodies that are gray or brown in color. Body length is about 34 inches with a tail length of 13 inches. They have black spots on the body as well as black and white stripes on the sides of the neck. In most cases there are two white stripes and three black stripes. The tail has a number of black rings around it. Limbs are black and the forefeet contain lobes of skin on the third and fourth digit that protect the retractile claws. Males are slightly larger than females.

Range mass: 5 to 11 kg.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species has been recorded in primary forest (both evergreen and deciduous), secondary forest and plantations (Duckworth et al. 1997; Azlan, 2003) and is often said to have even wider habitat use (e.g. Lekagul and McNeely 1977). It has been recorded up to 1,600 m (Than Zaw et al. in press). It is solitary, nocturnal although there are occasinal day-time records of active animals (e.g. Than Zaw et al. in press) and it is usually active on the ground (Lekagul and McNeely, 1977, Duckworth 1997). An adult male was radio-tracked in Thailand and had a home-range of 12 km² (Rabinowitz, 1991). Occupancy of suitable habitats varies within Indochina.

Its diet consists of a wide range of animals, including fish, birds, lizards, frogs, insects, scorpions (and other arthropods) and crabs, as well as poultry and garbage (Lekagul and McNeely 1977).

In Lao PDR, this species is found in tall forest, both evergreen and deciduous, and adjacent degraded areas, over at least 200 to 1000 m, with few recent records from below 400 m (Duckworth et al. 1999); however, there are many records from other countries, e.g. Myanmar, below this altitude (Than Zaw et al. in press). They are believed to breed throughout the year, with two litters per year, and two to four young per litter (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). Breeding and resting dens are usually holes in the ground which were originally dug by other species. It was recorded in secondary forest, that was logged in the 1970s, and which surrounds a palm estate, in Malaysia in 2000-01 by Azlan (2003).

Like Viverricula and Civettictis, but to a generally much lesser extent, this civet has been used as a source of civetone, an oil-like substance secreted by the perineal gland used by the animal for territorial marking.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Viverra zibetha live in grasslands, scrub, and densely forested areas. They are commonly found near human habitats. They live in burrows that have been dug by other animals.

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; rainforest

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Civets are carnivorous. They prey on birds, frogs, snakes, small mammals, chickens, and hens. They also eat fruit, roots, eggs, and have been recorded eating fish and crabs.

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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
20.0 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
15.0 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 21.7 years (captivity)
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Reproduction

Females are polyestrous, breeding throughout the year. They have two litters per year and each litter can have up to four young. They are born in a hole in the ground or in very dense vegetation. Young can open their eyes in ten days and begin being weaned at one month of age. Weight at birth is less than 100g and doubles in 12 days. At the end of one month, the birth weight has increased four fold. The females raise the young on their own.

Average number of offspring: 3.

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Duckworth, J.W., Wozencraft, C., Wang Yin-xiang, Kanchanasaka, B. & Long, B.

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

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is listed as Near Threatened through circumstantial evidence of trapping-driven declines in heavily hunted and fragmented areas (notably China) and even within some large tracts of little-encroached habitat and the known heavy trade in the species as wild meat. Throughout most if its range non-selective snaring and other forms of trapping, hunting with dogs and projectile hunting are at very high levels. As a ground-dwelling species it is therefore exposed to heavy trapping pressure in much of its range. It remains widely distributed, retains large populations over much of its range, occurs in many protected areas, tolerates some degree of habitat modification (perhaps a lot more than is generally apparent today, given that the most degraded areas are among the most heavily hunted), and it is unlikely to be declining at nearly the rate required to qualify for listing as Vulnerable under criterion A. Currently, region-wide habitat conversion pressures are sufficiently high in the level lowlands to threaten ground-dwelling civets (e.g. Large-spotted Civet), but Large Indian Civet has a wide altitudinal range, with large populations in the hills and mountains. Therefore habitat loss and fragmentation rates are not sufficient to drive densities declines sufficient for listing as Vulnerable. Because it is such a widespread species, it is difficult to determine the population trajectory across its entire range. The overall population decline rate past, present and future is difficult to judge but it is unlikely that it exceeds 30% in three generations, i.e. sufficient to list this species as ‘Vulnerable’. This species could become Vulnerable if habitat conversion (particularly for rubber plantations in hill areas of northern South-east Asia) and fragmentation continues at current rates, and if regional demand for civet meat in luxury restaurants, particularly in China and Viet Nam, remains high and the international trade remains effectively unconstrained.
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The Ahmedabad Zoo in India has a small population of Indian civets. They were formerly kept in order to collect their glandular secretions.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened

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Population

Population
This species lives at a naturally fairly high density for a carnivorous animal and was almost universally considered common by historical collectors (Pocock 1939). It remains common in much of its range: it is possible to see several in a single night of spotlighting on foot even in heavily-hunted Lao PDR ( Duckworth 1997), it is among the most common mammals camera-trapped across Cambodia (J. L. Walmart pers. comm.) and Myanmar (Than Zaw et al. in press), and is one of the most commonly recorded civets in Viet Nam (Roberton et al. in prep.). However, in some areas (such as Southeastern China) it has become effectively extinct over large areas (M. W. N. Lau pers. comm.). Few other parts of the range are as severely impacted by habitat fragmentation and degradation coupled with hunting. It is likely that populations are widely reduced in the most heavily hunted parts of its range where habitat has been heavily fragmented, e.g. much of northern Viet Nam and lowland Lao PDR. Recent camera-trapping in the Nakai–Nam Theun national protected areas, Central Lao PDR, found rather few animals (Johnson and Johnston 2007), suggesting the possibility for very heavy ground-level trapping (as occurs in much of this area) to reduce populations greatly even in large tracts of little-encroached forest.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Habitat loss and degradation are a threat to this species (Schreiber et al., 1989). Across its range, there has been loss and degradation of forests through logging and conversion of forests to non-forest land-uses. It is hunted for food, probably throughout its range, and certainly in Viet Nam, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, NE India and Thailand, and for scent glands in Viet Nam and China. Ground-living small carnivores are exposed to high levels of non-specific hunting, particularly with snares, throughout most of South-east Asia. Dogs are widely likely to be a problem for this ground-dwelling species, even though it is largely within burrows by day. Snaring and other forms of ground-level trapping occur in much of its range, including Lao PDR (Duckworth et al. 1997), Viet Nam, and Thailand, with trapping found both inside and outside protected areas (Kanchanasaka, pers. comm.). There has been an increased demand for civet meat in Chinese and Viet Namese markets (Bell et al. 2004; Lynam et al. 2005).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is totally protected in Malaysia under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 (WPA 1972) (Azlan, 2003). This species is listed on Category II of the China Wildlife Protection Law (1988) (Li et al, 2000). China listed it as ‘Endangered’ under criteria A2acd, and it is a class II protected State species (due to trapping for food and scent glands). It is protected in Thailand, Viet Nam and Myanmar (GMA Small Carnivore Workshop, 2006). It is found in several protected areas throughout its range (Duckworth, 1997; Azlan, 2003; Kawanishi and Sunquist, 2004). The population of India is listed on CITES Appendix III.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Viverra zibetha prey upon domestic animals, such as chickens, placing them in conflict with farmers.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Viverra zibetha secrete a substance called civet. It is used commercially to produce perfumes. They may also influence forest structure and re-growth by aiding in seed dispersal.

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Wikipedia

Large Indian civet

The large Indian civet (Viverra zibetha) is a civet native to South and Southeast Asia. It is listed as Near Threatened by IUCN since 2008, mainly because of trapping-driven declines in heavily hunted and fragmented areas, notably in China, and the heavy trade as wild meat.[1]

Characteristics[edit]

Skull

Large Indian civets are generally grizzled greyish brown, with white and black bars along the neck, a white muzzle, and usually two white stripes and three black stripes on the tail. The hair on the back is longer. The claws are retractable, and there is hair in between the paw pads. They are almost as big as a binturong and an African civet, with a head-and-body length ranging from 50 to 95 cm (20 to 37 in) and 38 to 59 cm (15 to 23 in) long tail. The hind foot measures 9 to 14.5 cm (3.5 to 5.7 in). Their weight ranges from 3.4 to 9.2 kg (7.5 to 20.3 lb).[2][3]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The large Indian civet ranges from Nepal, northeast India, Bhutan to Myanmar, Thailand, the Malay peninsula and Singapore to Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and China.[1]

Distribution of subspecies[edit]

Five subspecies are recognized:[4]

Six subspecies have been proposed but a taxonomic revision is needed. The validity of the species Viverra tainguensis described in 1997 by Sokolov, Rozhnov and Pham Chong from Tainguen Plateau in Gialai Province in Vietnam has been seriously questioned, and it is now generally considered a synonym of V. zibetha.[1]

Ecology and behaviour[edit]

Large Indian civets are solitary and nocturnal. They spend most of their time on the ground, and are agile climbers. During the day, they sleep in burrows that have been dug and abandoned by other animals. They are territorial and mark their territories with excretions from their anal glands. Their territory ranges from 1.7 to 5.4 km2 (0.66 to 2.08 sq mi).

Large Indian civets are mostly carnivorous. They eat birds, frogs, snakes, small mammals, eggs, crabs, and fish, but also fruit and roots.

Reproduction[edit]

Females breed at any time of the year, and generally have two litters a year. A litter usually consists of four young. They are born in a hole in the ground or in dense vegetation. They open their eyes at 10 days and are weaned at one month of age.

Conservation[edit]

Viverra zibetha from Hodgson's drawings

Viverra zibetha is totally protected in Malaysia under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and listed on Category II of the China Wildlife Protection Law. China listed it as ‘Endangered’ under criteria A2acd, and it is a class II protected State species (due to trapping for food and scent glands). It is protected in Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar. It is found in several protected areas throughout its range. The population of India is listed on CITES Appendix III.[1]

In Hong Kong, it is a protected species under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance Cap 170, though it has not been recorded in a natural state in Hong Kong since the 1970s, and is considered extirpated.[6]

Local names[edit]

In Assamese it is called Gendera or Johamol.

In Bengali it is called Bham or Bham Biral and Gandho Gokul or Khatas. Biral= cat, Gandho= smell or scent. Gokul= the place of Lord Krishna (Govinda). In Bengal there is a delicate variety of sweet and pleasant smelling rice known as Govindabhog rice (the rice which is offered to Lord Govinda). The secretion from prene gland of civet cat smells like that variety of rice, so it is often called as "Gandho Gokul".

In Malay language it is called Musang kasturi (musang = fox, kasturi = musk), due to its musky smell.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Duckworth, J. W., Wozencraft, C., Wang Yin-xiang, Kanchanasaka, B., Long, B. (2008). "Viverra zibetha". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
  2. ^ Smith, A. T., Xie, Y. (2008). A guide to the mammals of China. Princeton University Press.
  3. ^ Boitani, Luigi, Simon & Schuster's Guide to Mammals. Simon & Schuster/Touchstone Books (1984), ISBN 978-0671428051
  4. ^ Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 532–628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  5. ^ a b c d Ellerman, J. R., Morrison-Scott, T. C. S. (1966). Checklist of Palaearctic and Indian mammals 1758 to 1946. Second edition. British Museum of Natural History, London. Page 281.
  6. ^ Shek, C. T. (2006). A Field Guide to the Terrestrial Mammals of Hong Kong. Friends of the Country Parks / Cosmos Books, Hong Kong. 403 pp. ISBN 978-988-211-331-2. Page 281
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