Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Viverridae

Scientific Name: Cynogale bennettii
Species Authority: Gray, 1837
Common Name(s):
English Otter Civet, Sunda Otter Civet, Otter-civet
French Civette-loutre De Sumatra
Spanish Cibeta Nutria
Cynogale lowei Pocock, 1933
Taxonomic Notes: It includes Cynogale lowei, known only from the holotype found in 1926 (See Veron et al. 2006), but systematic work is still needed.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2ce ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Duckworth, J.W., Sebastian, T., Jennings, A. & Veron, G.
Reviewer(s): Belant, J. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
This species is listed as Endangered because of a serious ongoing population decline, estimated to be more than 50% over the past 3 generations (estimated to be 15 years), inferred from direct habitat destruction, and indirect inferred declines due to pollutants. In so doing we also estimate that the species does not use severely degraded and converted areas to any significant degree. Although the species is poorly known, the forest habitats within its range have been reduced more than 50% in the last 3 generations (15 years) and are projected to deteriorate further in the next decade. Riverine habitats are increasingly polluted and disturbed. This species is found primarily in lowland forested habitats, with habitat specificity near streams, which are areas that have been increasingly converted to oil palm plantations. There remains uncertainty about the tolerance of the species to habitat loss, especially in areas where riverine forest remains in a mosaic of logged forest, and if viable populations are found to persist in such areas, then the red listing will need revision. There is a need to know more about life history and ecology of this species.
Previously published Red List assessments:
1996 Endangered (EN)
1994 Endangered (E)
1990 Insufficiently Known (K)
1988 Insufficiently Known (K)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The otter civet has a Sundaic distribution and is found in Malaysia, Indonesia (Sumatra, Borneo), Thailand and apparently, far from the Sundaic region, northern Viet Nam (Tonkin, which is the type locality of Cynogale lowei) (Veron et al. 2006). There is one very old record from Singapore (Meiri 2005) but there is no evidence that this involved an animal taken there, rather than one with a trade locality (B.Y.P.H. Lee in litt. to J. W. Duckworth 2007).

Lekagul and McNeeley (1977) listed the species in southern Thailand, but there were no confirmed records until 1992 (Kanchanasaka pers. comm.). Another record in Kaeng Krachan National Park in 1998 confirms its presence in southern Thailand (Anon 1998). There is also an unconfirmed sighting from northern Thailand from Phu Kradung National Park in 1986 (Schreiber 1989; Veron et al. 2006), which should be viewed with skepticism until corroborated, as it would take the species range out of the purely Sundaic pattern is shows by all other records and it is based on an unverified local report.

Recent records of this species from Borneo include sightings in Sarawak (Sebastian 2005; Belden et al. 2007s) and in Sabah (Veron et al. 2006). The otter civet has been recorded as high as 1,370 m above Bario in Sarawak, but the majority of records are from lowland forest (Veron et al, 2006).There are some camera trap pictures of this species in Sumatra (Veron et al. 2006). There is also a possible record from a fisherman's house near Yilong Lake in southern Yunnan, China in 1973, which is of unknown provenance (Schreiber et al. 1989). If the species does actually occur in both northern Thailand and Yunnan (China), then it is likely to also occur in Lao PDR (Duckworth et al. 1999).
Countries occurrence:
Brunei Darussalam; Indonesia; Malaysia; Thailand
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There is very little known about the otter civet’s population trends and local abundance, and further studies are required (GMA Small Carnivore Workshop 2006). Sebastian (2005) reports that this species’ apparent rarity is puzzling, including a low detection frequency in heavily surveyed areas. There is a need to determine whether the species' rarity is due to sampling or methodology bias (possibly due to its habitat specificity) or due to naturally low densities (GMA Small Carnivore Workshop 2006). It is known from 75 total museum individuals: 40 from Borneo, 12 from Sumatra, and eight from Peninsular Malaysia (Schreiber et al. 1989; Veron et al. 2004). There have been 19 other sightings of this species in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand (Veron et al. 2006). There was an intensive survey that recorded this species 59 times during 3,920 camera trap days in Way Kamabas National Park in Sumatra between January 1996 and December 1998 (Veron et al. 2006).
Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Little is known of the habitat and ecology of the otter civet and further studies are required. This species is thought to be largely confined to peat swamp forests, though there are recent records from lowland dry forest (Sebastian 2005). Preferred habitat appears to be lowland primary forest, but it has been recorded in secondary forest, bamboo, and logged forest (Heydon and Bulloh 1996; Franklin 2001; Veron et al. 2006), however, the long-term persistence of this species in these habitats is unknown (Veron et al. 2006). The otter civet has also been recorded from freshwater swamp forest and limestone forest, surrounded by acacia plantation in Bukit Sarang Conservation Area, Sarawak (Belden et al. 2007).

As the otter civet is semiaquatic (Veron et al, 2006) and known to forage in the water (Medway, 1978; Lekagul and McNeely 1977; Yasuma, 1994), it is assumed that this species feeds on fish, crabs, mollusks, small mammals, and birds (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). It is also thought to be nocturnal (Sebastian, 2005), though there is data indicating it is also occasionally active during the day (see data from N. Franklin; G. Veron pers. comm. 2006; Sebastian 2005).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Reduction in primary forest habitat has proceeded very fast throughout the lowland Sundaic region in the last 20 years (e.g. BirdLife International, 2001; Holmes, 2000; Jepson et al., 2001; McMorrow and Talip, 2001; Lambert and Collar, 2002; Curran et al. 2004; Fuller, 2004; Eames et al. 2005, Aratrakorn et al. 2006; Kinnaird et al. 2003). This has probably reduced populations of otter civets, and threatens its persistence (Veron et al. 2006). Clear-cut logging is one of the major factors contributing to decline in suitable habitat, and even selective logging may sufficiently alter habitat such that it is the species can no longer occupy it; combined, this loss of primary forest may be responsible for the current rarity of the otter civet (Veron et al. 2006). Heydon and Bulloh (1996) found that the abundance of civets (including palm civets, banded palm-civet, otter civet, terrestrial civets and linsangs) in northern Borneo was significantly lower in logged forest than in primary forest, with the most specialized civets, including the otter civet, being less tolerant of logged forests than generalist civets. Conversion of peat swamp forests to oil palm plantations is a major threat particularly to this species. There is no evidence that the species is specifically hunted, but as a ground-dwelling species it will be exposed to the snares and other ground-level taps set for other species. The numbers of animals caught and effects on populations, if any, are unknown.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The otter civet is listed in Appendix II of CITES and as ‘Threatened’ in the IUCN Action Plan for the Conservation of Mustelids and Viverrids (Schreiber et al. 1989). Conservation of this species requires protection of forest and riverine habitat, and policing against illegal harvesting of timber and hunting (Veron et al. 2006). There is a need to survey for this species to determine its tolerance to secondary habitats, including riverine areas in plantations and other areas that maintain some natural vegetation, as well as to further assess its distribution and monitor its populations. Live trapping and camera trapping are being done in Krau Wildlife Reserve in Peninsular Malaysia in order to study different species of small carnivores, and hopefully to detect the presence of the otter civet (Malaysia Carnivore Project 2005). The absence of recent records in Peninsular Malaysia is of great concern, and it is very important to know if some protected areas still harbor this species (G. Veron pers. comm., 2006).

This species is found in many protected areas throughout its range. Including Samunsam Wildlife Sanctuary in western Sarawak in 2000 (Sebastian, 2005), Kaeng Krachan National Park (12 57 N, 99 23 E) in Thailand in 1998 (Anon, 1998), Bukit Sarang Conservation Area in Sarawak (Belden et al. 2007), Way Kambas National Park in Sumatra (Veron et al, 2006), Danau Sentarum National Park (Jeanes and Meijaard 2000), and Leuser National Park in Sumatra (van Strien, 1996).

Citation: Duckworth, J.W., Sebastian, T., Jennings, A. & Veron, G. 2008. Cynogale bennettii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T6082A12413465. . Downloaded on 13 October 2015.
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