Herpestes javanicus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Herpestidae

Scientific Name: Herpestes javanicus (É. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1818)
Common Name(s):
English Javan Mongoose
Urva javanica (É. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1818)
Taxonomic Notes: Over the twentieth century there was no agreement over whether Small Indian Mongoose Herpestes auropunctatus was conspecific with H. javanicus, with major faunistic works taking both options with similar frequency. Taylor and Matheson (1999) convincingly demonstrated on morphological grounds that the two species were distinct. This was corroborated by further morphological and genetic investigation (Veron et al. 2006, Patou et al. 2009). The operational problems of this division are considerable: a paucity of specimens makes it unclear which species occur (and their extent of overlap, if any) in large tracts of the combined range, including China and northern South-East Asia (Veron et al. 2006). Much information published under the name Small Asian Mongoose H. javanicus sensu lato in fact refers to H. auropunctatus, including all that from outside Asia.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-03-03
Assessor(s): Chutipong, W., Duckworth, J.W., Timmins, R., Willcox, D.H.A. & Ario, A.
Reviewer(s): Schipper, J.
Contributor(s): Veron, G. & Jennings, A.
This species is listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, evident large population, and the likelihood that its population is relatively stable. The species is found in a wide variety of open, edge, degraded and anthropogenic habitats; much of its range was until recently closed evergreen forest inimical to the species on the mainland, although occupied in Java. Records of the species from agricultural and peri-urban areas in Lao PDR, where hunting of wildlife has been very intense, indicate a high resilience to persecution, albeit probably at reduced density where such pressures are very high.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Javan Mongoose occurs from Java through Sumatra (perhaps only the northern fifth) and mainland South-east Asia to uncertain northern and western extents. Veron et al. (2006) proposed that these limits lie within China, Myanmar and perhaps Thailand. The long-standing treatment of this species as conspecific with H. auropunctatus (under the name Small Asian Mongoose H. javanicus) and a paucity of specimen or other evidence available for re-examination from China, Lao PDR, northern Thailand and Myanmar hampers confident assignment of range (see extended, detailed discussion in Veron et al. 2006). The many introduced populations of H. javanicus sensu lato around the world are all believed to be of H. auropunctatus, but further confirmation is desirable (Veron et al. 2006).

Across most of its range, Javan Mongoose is rather rarely recorded by conventional conservation-oriented surveys, reflecting the need for these surveys to focus on habitats of high conservation relevance (notably closed evergreen forest) and this species's limited occurrence in such habitats (see 'Habitats and ecology' section). This hinders clarification of the distribution within each range state. In Lao PDR the species (not confirmed not also to include H. auropunctatus) has been recorded only in the south and centre of the country, where plains are extensive; there seem to be no records from the northern third (where plains are limited) (that mapped for the far north in Veron et al. [2006] is an error for central Viet Nam; Duckworth et al. 2010). It is unclear whether the lack of records from northern Lao PDR reflects a natural absence from there, a hunting-induced extirpation (more likely to occur in areas, such as this, where suitable habitat occurs as small isolates and is heavily used by people) or the limited relevant search effort at low altitudes in this predominantly highland area (Duckworth et al. 2010). In Thailand, most of the recent records of this species (not confirmed not also to include H. auropunctatus) traced by Chutipong et al. (2014) came from the lowland south and centre of the country, with none from north of 17°03'N; as with Lao PDR, northern Thailand is predominantly highland. However, there are at least a few records (apparently left open as to species by Veron et al. 2006) from further north in Thailand, such as one from Chiang Mai at 18°47’N, 98°59’E (Chasen 1935). Vietnamese records (of this species (not confirmed not also to include H. auropunctatus) traced by Roberton (2007) came from a wide spread of the country including the far north (which has large highland areas but a greater proportion than in northern Lao PDR or Thailand of lowlands); although there was none from the Mekong delta, there are subsequent records for the U Minh wetlands and it seems to be one of the more common small carnivores in the delta (D.H.A. Willcox pers. comm. 2014). In Myanmar, Than Zaw et al. (2008) traced no records from recent formal wildlife survey, but knew of occurrence (of this species and/or H. auropunctatus) in two peri-urban areas of Yangon; information from elsewhere in the country was too limited for the lack of other such records to suggest absence or scarcity there. There are recent records in Cambodia from the north-east and south-west (e.g. Holden and Neang 2009, Gray et al. 2014), and the north (Stung Treng province) and north-west (Preah Vihear province) (D.H.A. Willcox pers. comm. 2014). In peninsular Malaysia, Wells (1989) traced records from many localities west of the main mountain range, but not from the east; a later collation (Jennings and Veron 2011) also seems to have found none in this eastern region. In Indonesia, the species is widespread in Java (Jennings and Veron 2011, A. Ario pers. comm. 2014), but in Sumatra has only been recorded from the north (perhaps only the northernmost fifth) (Van Strien 1996, Jennings and Veron 2011, Holden and Meijaard 2012). The species occurs also on the Indonesian islands of Bali, Panaitan and Madura (Jennings and Veron 2011) but its distribution across them is poorly documented.

This species's distribution (relative to that of H. auropunctatus) in Myanmar and China (including Hong Kong SAR), is unclear (Veron et al. 2006).
Countries occurrence:
Cambodia; Indonesia (Bali, Jawa, Sumatera - Present - Origin Uncertain); Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia); Myanmar; Thailand; Viet Nam
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):1800
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Javan Mongoose's habitat use overlaps little with that of most wildlife survey and research. Thus, country reviews of recent small carnivore status have typically traced few Javan Mongoose records (e.g., Than Zaw et al. 2008, Duckworth et al. 2010, Chutipong et al. 2014). Records from activities in anthropogenic habitats, such as birdwatching and, in some countries, suburban living show that the species is evidently common, at least in peninsular Malaysia, Java, Cambodia and Thailand (Wells 1989, N. Brickle pers. comm. 2010, Chutipong et al. 2014, A. Ario pers. comm. 2014, R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2014). Records in Lao PDR are rather scarce, presumably because of the very heavy wildlife persecution in most settled areas (Duckworth et al. 2010). The species's abundance in Viet Nam is not clear, although it can be seen regularly in some heavily modified habitats, e.g. around staff accommodation in the buffer zone of Cuc Phuong National Park (D.H.A. Willcox pers. comm. 2014). In Myanmar, where village harvest of small carnivores and other similar-sized mammals is typically much lower than in Lao PDR and Viet Nam, the species (and/or H. auropunctatus) is so common in places that it is trapped by conservation agencies as a pest (Su Su 2005). The status in Sumatra is not clear: it is typically perceived as an enigma (e.g., Jennings and Veron 2011, Holden and Meijaard 2012) but Shepherd et al. (2004) found that it was one of the most commonly traded species (and the second most commonly traded carnivore) in the pet markets of Medan, Sumatra; every dealer questioned said that the animals were wild-caught in Aceh (C. R. Shepherd pers. comm. 2014). 

The population trend is not directly known for any part of the range. Broad-scale habitat trends and the species's observed habitat use indicate that the heavy deforestation of recent decades has created much new habitat. The effect of the rapid intensification of, in particular, wet rice agriculture is unknown. In Thailand triple-crop irrigated rice supports massive rodent pest densities, such that rodent harvest is itself a big business for farmers, with many sold at roadside stalls (W. Chutipong pers. comm. 2014), thereby providing a ready food supply for mongooses; the species certainly uses such habitat in Thailand (W. Chutipong pers. comm. 2014). Set against this, high agrochemical application might be problematic, particularly for predators, and the reduction of unkempt corners and edge, which might be expected to provide important cover, might make such agricultural land less suitable for the species. This type of farming is increasing widely across the species's range. in some areas, notably Viet Nam, hunting levels are too high for the species to be common in this sort of agriculture (D.H.A. Willcox pers. comm. 2014).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Javan Mongoose altitudinal distribution differs between mainland South-east Asia and Java; on Sumatra it is unknown. On Java the species has been camera-trapped from almost sea-level up to 1,800 m (A. Ario pers. comm. 2014). On the mainland the highest record traced comes from only 870 m, from Thailand, with two others over 700 m in that country (Chutipong et al. 2014). In Vietnam, Roberton (2007) traced records only up to 400 m. In Lao PDR, most records are from below 250 m, with one area (of plateau topography) at 520-530 m also holding the species (Duckworth et al. 2010). In peninsular Malaysia, all records known to Wells (1989) were from the plains. The few recent localities in Myanmar traced by Than Zaw et al. (2008) (for this species and/or H. auropunctatus) are also at plains level. Records from Cambodia are also mostly lowland with one outlying site, a marsh, at 560 m (Holden and Neang 2009, Gray et al. 2014, R. J. Timmins pers. comm. 2014). The aggregate survey effort, including out-of-formal-observation time, in mid altitudes across mainland South-east Asia is sufficiently high that it is quite clear that the wide altitudinal range in Java is not replicated on the mainland. Overall, on the mainland most records come from below 300 m with localised occurrence to 870 m, mostly in areas of anomalously gentle terrain.

Most records with accurate observer-assigned habitats come from degraded or anthropogenic habitats, although in Java the species is commonly encountered in closed forest, as well as in open habitats such as suburban gardens, degraded forest edge, and pine and Agathis damara production forests (A. Ario pers. comm. 2014). On the mainland, careful inspection of records that are from evergreen forest areas usually shows them to come from deforested exclaves, such as from settlement or cultivation rather than within the forest itself (Thailand: W. Chutipong pers. comm. 2014; Lao PDR; Duckworth et al. 2010). Across its range the species uses: plantations and other anthropogenic habitats with bushes around human residences (A. Ario pers. comm. 2014), including urban areas such as residential gardens in parts of Bogor (N. Brickle pers. comm. 2010) (Java); "bamboo and other scrubland, rough plantations including young teak, Imperata grassland and paddy and sugar-cane fields" (Wells 1989: 96; peninsular Malaysia); mostly disturbed and edge areas, including extensive farmland and suburban areas, but including little-encroached deciduous dipterocarp forest (especially or solely near surface water) and, once, several kilometers into little-encroached, closed canopy semi-evergreen forest (Duckworth et al. 2010; Lao PDR); and grassland, scrub, villages, rice paddies, pineapple plantations, secondary forest (including semi-evergreen), deciduous forest (Chutipong et al. 2014; Thailand). Agricultural habitats are particularly prevalent in videos of hunting of this species available in Thai on You-tube (W. Chutipong pers. comm. 2014). Whilst there are a fair number of records in non-Sundaic South-east Asia from little encroached deciduous forest (e.g., Duckworth et al. 2010), occupation of such habitats is far from universal in Cambodia and Thailand (Chutipong et al. 2014, R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2014); the species seems perhaps only to occur near permanent surface water. Despite the near-absence of records from interior closed evergreen forest in the mainland, the species freely uses opened-up areas in evergreen biomes (e.g., Duckworth et al. 2010, Chutipong et al. 2014). The species also uses artificial banana-dominated embankments that border active seasonally inundated Melaleuca plantations (D.H.A. Willcox pers. comm. 2014).

This species is ground-dwelling, almost solely diurnal and usually observed singly or, occasionally, as duos (e.g. Duckworth et al. 2010). Other aspects of natural history are poorly known, given that much information published under the name 'Herpestes javanicus' refers to H. aurropunctatus, not to H. javanicus as defined here. It is possible that its natural history has never been studied in the field.
Generation Length (years):4
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There is a moderate level of trade in at least Viet Nam, Lao PDR, Sumatra and Java (Shepherd et al. 2004, Shepherd 2012, Duckworth et al. 2010), but this is unlikely to be at levels detrimental to populations except perhaps in Sumatra.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are presently no known significant threats to Javan Mongoose. Numbers are probably restrained in Lao PDR and Viet Nam by the very heavy hunting typical in areas used by people, but even so the species is still seen occasionally in the suburbs of big towns (Duckworth et al. 2010). It is also hunted in the agricultural parts of Thailand with various videos of hunts available on You-tube (W. Chutipong pers. comm. 2014). The numbers traded in Medan, Sumatra (Shepherd et al. 2004), are large for the apparently small occupied area of the island, but the enormous markets for pets etc. in Java apparently trade rather few (Shepherd 2012). Habitat changes across the region are likely to have benefited the species strongly over the past century, with large-scale fragmentation, degradation and outright conversion of closed evergreen forest into habitats used by this species. Although the species has not been recorded from heavily urbanised areas (i.e. with no significant garden or parkland component) such habitats still comprise a negligible proportion of its range. The high overlap of its range with agriculture exposes it to the risk of chemical threats with the ever-changing variety of agrochemicals in use. In addition, whilst it is well recorded from unintensified agriculture and agriculture close to scrub and other (at least temporarily) uncultivated areas, its ability to use large landscapes dominated by intensified wet rice production is not well known (other than that it does occur in them). These cover large parts of Java, Thailand and Viet Nam, and increasing parts of Lao PDR, Cambodia, Myanmar, peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Javan Mongoose is protected in some range states and occurs in some, perhaps many protected areas (probably only fairly marginally in most, given that they typically comprise natural landscapes with only limited anthropogenic modification). It presently lacks specific conservation activities, and none is obviously needed.

Citation: Chutipong, W., Duckworth, J.W., Timmins, R., Willcox, D.H.A. & Ario, A. 2016. Herpestes javanicus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T70203940A45207619. . Downloaded on 24 September 2017.
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