Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Viverridae

Scientific Name: Viverra zibetha
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1758
Common Name(s):
English Large Indian Civet
Viverra tainguensis Sokolov, Rozhnov & Pham Chong Anh, 1997
Taxonomic Notes: Six subspecies have been proposed (Corbet and Hill, 1992) but a taxonomic revision is needed. The validity of the new species V. tainguensis has been seriously questioned (Walston and Veron 2001) and it is now generally considered a synonym of V. zibetha (e.g., Wozencraft 2005). No critical re-examination of the holotype, as distinct from the original description has, however, yet been published.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2008-07-02
Assessor(s): Duckworth, J.W., Wozencraft, C., Wang Yin-xiang, Kanchanasaka, B. & Long, B.
Reviewer(s): Belant, J. & Schipper, J.
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.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Near Threatened (NT)
1996 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

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. 2008), Nepal, Bhutan, Singapore, (Pocock 1939, Corbet and Hill 1992, Wozencraft 2005). Introduced to the Andaman Islands (Lever 1985).
Countries occurrence:
Bhutan; Cambodia; China; India; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Myanmar; Nepal; Singapore; Thailand; Viet Nam
Upper elevation limit (metres): 1600
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

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. 2008), 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.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species has been recorded in primary forest (both evergreen and deciduous), secondary forest and plantations (Duckworth 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. 2008). It is solitary, nocturnal although there are occasinal day-time records of active animals (e.g. Than Zaw et al. 2008) 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. 2008). 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

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): 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 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).

Conservation Actions [top]

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.

Citation: Duckworth, J.W., Wozencraft, C., Wang Yin-xiang, Kanchanasaka, B. & Long, B. 2015. Viverra zibetha. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T41709A81522305. . Downloaded on 13 October 2015.
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