Herpestes urva 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Herpestidae

Scientific Name: Herpestes urva
Species Authority: (Hodgson, 1836)
Common Name(s):
English Crab-eating Mongoose
Urva urva
Taxonomic Notes: Corbet and Hill (1992) list three subspecies.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-03-03
Assessor(s): Choudhury, A., Timmins, R., Chutipong, W., Duckworth, J.W., Mudappa, D. & Willcox, D.H.A.
Reviewer(s): Schipper, J.
Contributor(s): Su Su
Crab-eating Mongoose is listed as Least Concern because it is found in a wide variety of habitats including degraded and fragmented areas, up to relatively high altitudes (over 1,500 m asl) and is evidently resilient to the heavy hunting occurring in large parts of its range. Although it is presumably declining in proportion to deforestation, rates of outright conversion in the hill evergreen areas of northern Southeast Asia remain low; although lowland plains populations are doubtless in steep decline in some areas, the averaged global decline is unlikely to approach rates appropriate for categorisation even as Near Threatened over the most recent or forthcoming three generations (taken as 19 years). Even though hunting-induced declines in Lao PDR and Viet Nam might warrant a regionally-specific listing of at least Near Threatened, they are offset by the status of this species in areas such as Northeast India, Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia, where hunting threats are somewhat to considerably lower. Although some increase in hunting in the next three generations is likely in Myanmar and particularly Cambodia, because (i) these constitute less than a third of the range and (ii) even in Lao PDR and Viet Nam the species persists in extremely heavily hunted areas and is still recorded widely, it is unlikely that future decline rates from both hunting and habitat loss averaged across the world range would be steep enough to warrant categorisation even as Near Threatened. No other threats have been identified that could be leading to a significant decline in the species.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Least Concern (LC)
1996 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Crab-eating Mongoose is found in southeast China including Taiwan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Northeast India and all countries of mainland Southeast Asia (e.g., Duckworth 1997, Van Rompaey 2001, Wang and Fuller 2001, Wang and Fuller 2003, Duckworth and Robichaud 2005, Datta et al. 2008, Chen et al. 2009, Jennings and Veron 2011, Tempa et al. 2011, Choudhury 2013, Thapa 2013). In Malaysia, it has been recorded south only to Terengganu (Hedges et al. 2013). It is altitudinally wide-ranging. Although there are apparently few records from high mountains (Van Rompaey 2001), it has been collected at 1,650 m asl (Kurseong, Bengal, India; Pocock 1941), with records from up to at least 1,800 m asl (Jennings and Veron 2011). Its range extends down to sea level in at least Hong Kong.
Countries occurrence:
Bangladesh; Bhutan; Cambodia; China; Hong Kong; India; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia); Myanmar; Nepal; Taiwan, Province of China; Thailand; Viet Nam
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Upper elevation limit (metres): 1800
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Crab-eating Mongoose is common in Northeast India, Viet Nam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand (Choudhury 1997ab, Duckworth 1997, Choudhury 1999, Than Zaw et al. 2008, Chutipong et al. 2014, R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2014, D.H.A. Willcox pers. comm. 2014). However, in some parts of the periphery of its range, it is believed to be uncommon, e.g. Jalpaiguiri District, Bengal, India (Inglis et al. 1919), Bangladesh (Khan 1982), Nepal (Thapa 2013) and Malaysia (Hedges et al. 2013). This species is one of the most frequently detected small carnivores during both camera-trapping and direct-observation surveys (the majority of data unpublished) in Lao PDR, Viet Nam and Cambodia, in quite a sharp contrast to another ground-dwelling species of similar habitat use, Large Indian Civet Viverra zibetha; this is highly suggestive of much greater resiliency to the current levels of hunting pressure (R. J. Timmins pers. comm. 2014).
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals: Yes
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
Continuing decline in subpopulations: No
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Crab-eating Mongoose occurs across a wide range of habitats, often near water, in evergreen and deciduous forest, scrubby areas, plantations, agricultural fields and near human settlements (Pham Trong Anh 1980, Duckworth et al. 1997, Van Rompaey 2001, Than Zaw et al. 2008, Thapa 2013). It also occurs in tall savanna grassland in areas such as Kaziranga and Manas National Parks in Assam (A.U. Choudhury pers. comm. 2014). It has been recorded up to at least 1,800 m asl (Jennings and Veron 2011). It is diurnal, despite earlier statements that it was nocturnal.

In Lao PDR, this species is found in evergreen forest (including degraded areas), mainly near water; most of the recent records are from hill and mountainous areas (Duckworth et al. 1999). In Thailand, Cambodia and southern Viet Nam this species is found in similar habitats and also in deciduous forest and down to the plains (Chutipong et al. 2014, D.H.A. Willcox pers. comm. 2014). In India it occurs in lowland wet evergreen forest, secondary forest and areas around industrial areas (e.g., oil refineries). In some countries, there are records from rice fields and other agricultural areas, and even near human settlements (Pham Trong Anh 1980, Thapa 2013). Little is known about its breeding, although the gestation period is thought to be about nine weeks; probably meaning that this species reproduces more slowly than does Herpestes javanicus (sensu lato; Lekagul and McNeely 1977). It feeds on fish, frogs, crabs, molluscs, insects and crayfish (Van Rompaey 2001).

In some areas it is readily approached by people because of its apparent near-sightedness (Van Rompaey 2001) and fearlessness (Pocock 1941), but in areas where hunting with projectiles and/or dogs is common it is shy and not approachable, e.g. Lao PDR (J.W. Duckworth pers. comm. 2014). It has lived up to 13 years and four months in captivity (Jones 1982). Wang and Fuller (2001) studied its ecology in a rural agricultural area of southeastern China (near the village of Taohong in northern Jiangxi province), from April 1993 to November 1994. Wang and Fuller (2003) studied its food habits in this area between June 1992 and November 1994, by analysing its faeces; it ate mammals, reptiles, insects and crustaceans. In Taiwan, Chuang and Lee (1997) found that it ate mainly crustaceans, insects, amphibians and reptiles. It remains little studied elsewhere.
Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Unknown
Generation Length (years): 6.5
Movement patterns: Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: In northern Southeast Asia Crab-eating Mongoose is subject to widespread heavy hunting as part of the general take from non-selective trapping methods. There is no evidence of directed harvest. General hunting levels are lower to the south and west of its range, although there is some evidence of targeted hunting of mongoose species in India where the hairs are used to make traditional paint brushes.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In northern Southeast Asia (Viet Nam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, southeast China and perhaps Myanmar), hunting is probably the main potential threat to Crab-eating Mongoose. This is widespread and intense, particularly in Lao PDR and Viet Nam but, even there, this species persists widely, including in areas with heavy human use. As a ground-dwelling animal, potentially suffering from widespread market-driven trapping in this region (where many other species have declined steeply), this suggests a strong resilience. However, it is evidently absent from, or at least very rare in, the plains of Lao PDR. These are more accessible than are the hills and, in general, hunting of mammals has been even more damaging in them. The rarity or absence there of Crab-eating Mongoose might reflect hunting-led extirpation (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2014); this is probably more likely than a natural absence from such areas, given the species' occurrence in lowland plains parts of Cambodia and Thailand (Chutipong et al. 2014, D.H.A. Willcox pers. comm. 2014). There is no demand for its meat in restaurants in Viet Nam (S. Roberton pers. comm. 2008) and no evidence of directed hunting of the species. Retaliatory killing for raiding poultry on farms occurs, but is not a population-level threat. There are no records from wholly agricultural or otherwise anthropogenic landscapes, indicating a degree of dependence on forest. Many recent records are, however, from highly fragmented and/or degraded forest. In Nepal and, formerly, in Viet Nam there are records from agricultural land (Pham Trong Anh 1980, Thapa 2013); nowadays, in its core range of northern Southeast Asia, such areas are mostly heavily hunted and are unlikely to support resident populations. It is possible that the species is widely excluded from farmland by hunting. In sum, with the exclusion of outright deforestation, the threats to this species from habitat change (degradation and fragmentation) are mainly indirect, through the increased hunting and trading that occurs in accompaniment over most of Southeast Asia.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is protected in China, Thailand, Myanmar and Peninsular Malaysia. It is listed in Schedule IV of the Indian Wild Life (protection) Act, 1972, and in Appendix III (India) of CITES.

It occurs in many protected areas across its range.

Citation: Choudhury, A., Timmins, R., Chutipong, W., Duckworth, J.W., Mudappa, D. & Willcox, D.H.A. 2015. Herpestes urva. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T41618A45208308. . Downloaded on 26 November 2015.
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