Viverra civettina 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Viverridae

Scientific Name: Viverra civettina
Species Authority: Blyth, 1862
Common Name(s):
English Malabar Civet, Malabar Large-spotted Civet
Viverra megaspila subspecies civettina Blyth, 1862
Taxonomic Notes: It was considered a subspecies of V. megaspila by Ellerman and Morrison-Scott (1951). Wozencraft (2005) and most other standard sources, e.g. Pocock (1939), Corbet and Hill (1992) considered it a separate species, but its specific status needs re-evaluation.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered C2a(i) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Jennings, A., Veron, G. & Helgen, K.
Reviewer(s): Duckworth, J.W. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
This species is listed as Critically Endangered because its population size is estimated to number fewer than 250 mature individuals, with no subpopulation greater than 50 individuals, and it is likely that it is experiencing a continuing decline. A continuing decline is inferred from the lack of any recent records and almost complete loss of habitat. What individuals remain are marginalized in sub-optimal habitat and any populations or reproductive individuals are severely fragmented and isolated. This species has a very restricted distribution and there is no recent evidence that it still exists within it protected areas.
Previously published Red List assessments:
1996 Critically Endangered (CR)
1994 Endangered (E)
1990 Endangered (E)
1988 Endangered (E)
1986 Endangered (E)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is endemic to the Western Ghats of India and has been recorded mostly in the coastal district of the Western Ghats, in southern India from Kanyakumariin the extreme south to as far as Wayanad, Coorg, and Honnavar in Karnataka in the north (Pocock, 1933, 1939; Corbet and Hill, 1992). There are only two reports of its occurrence in the higher elevation (>600 m) of the Western Ghats, in the High Wavy Mountains (Hutton, 1949) and possibly in Kudremukh (Karanth, 1986). The former is open to severe doubt. By the late 1960s, it was thought to be near extinction. From 1950 to 1990, there were only two possible records of this species, one in Kudremukh in Karnataka (Karanth, 1986) and the other in Tiruvella in Kerala (Kurup, 1989). After being listed as possibly extinct, skins of recently killed civets were obtained in Elayur, in the lowland Western Ghats, in Malappuram district, Kerala (Kurup, 1989) and near Nilambur (northern Kerala) (Ahsraf et al., 1993). Rai and Kumar (1993) report information of possible occurrence in Karnataka State.
Countries occurrence:
Upper elevation limit (metres): 600
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population status is unknown. It was thought to be possibly extinct, then rediscovered (Kurup 1989; Ashraf et al. 1993; Rai and Kumar 1993), but there is no further recent information and no recent sightings of live Malabar civets (Rao et al. 2007).

This species was once very common in the districts of Malabar and Travancore in southwest India, but by the late 1960s it was thought to be near extinction, it was not sighted again until 1987. From 1950 to 1990 there were only two possible sightings of this species, one in Kudremukh in Karnataka (Karanth 1986) and the other in Tiruvella in Kerala (Kurup, 1989). After being listed as possibly extinct, it was rediscovered in Elayur, in the lowland Western Ghats, in Malappuram district, Kerala (Kurup 1989).
Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Though little is known about its biology and ecology, there are some descriptions of habitat use: it once inhabited lowland forests, lowland swamp and riparian forests in the coastal plain districts of Western Ghats - although now it appears to be confined to thickets in cashew plantations and to highly degraded lowland forests in northern Kerala (Ashraf et al. 1993). It has been found in lowland riparian forests in the coastal plain districts (Ashraf et al. 1993). The species is nocturnal and probably elusive.

Natural forests have completely disappeared in the entire stretch of coastal Western Ghats, thus the present vegetation is of secondary origin (Champion and Seth, 1968), and is mostly plantations (Ashraf et al, 1993). Of these, cashew plantations are the least disturbed, as they are not weeded, providing a dense understory of shrubs and grasses for this terrestrial species to take refuge in (Ashraf et al, 1993). However, most records from 1960-1990 were in valleys around riparian areas, suggesting that this species is dependent of shallow water courses where it may forage at night (Ashraf et al, 1993).
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The use of civet-musk is said to have been in widespread use in 1965-1970 (Ashraf et al. 1993).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threat to this species is the loss and degradation of forest habitat. Natural forests have completely disappeared in the entire stretch of the coastal Western Ghats (Champion and Seth 1968).

In the past, this species was widely used to collect civet oil. It is now threatened by habitat loss and retaliatory killings for raiding poultry. This species is seriously threatened by habitat destruction and fragmentation, as well as by hunting, as it occurs outside protected areas (Ashraf et al. 1993). The use of civet-musk is said to have been in widespread use between 1965-1970 (Ashraf et al. 1993). Cashew plantations, which may hold most of the surviving populations of this species, are threatened by large-scale clearance for planting rubber trees (Ashraf et al. 1993). This species is not selectively hunted, but 10 of 22 records from 1950 to 1990 were caught by dogs (Ashraf et al. 1990).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is listed in Schedule I, part I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and on CITES Appendix III (India). This species does not occur in protected areas and the development of protected areas in its range is unlikely due to dense human populations (Ashraf et al, 1993). Ashraf et al (1993) recommends the following conservation actions for this species: captive breeding (with the possibility of reintroduction if suitable undisturbed areas are identified), field surveys (to investigate whether this species occurs in protected areas) and ecological studies (to determine the threats to this species). An urgent conservation action plan is needed.

Citation: Jennings, A., Veron, G. & Helgen, K. 2008. Viverra civettina. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T23036A9408206. . Downloaded on 29 June 2016.
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