Civettictis civetta 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Viverridae

Scientific Name: Civettictis civetta (Schreber, 1776)
Common Name(s):
English African Civet
French Civette africaine, Civette d'Afrique
Taxonomic Notes: This species was formerly considered to be congeneric with Asian civets of the genus Viverra. It was first included in Civettictis by Pocock (1915) and retained in that genus by several authors, including Ray (1995, 2013), Kingdon (1997) and Wozencraft (2005), although others, such as Ellerman et al. (1953) and Coetzee (1977), continued to include it in Viverra.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-05-12
Assessor(s): Do Linh San, E., Gaubert, P., Wondmagegne, D. & Ray, J.
Reviewer(s): Duckworth, J.W. & Hoffmann, M.
Contributor(s): Hoffmann, M.
African Civet is listed as Least Concern because the species has a wide distribution range, is present in a variety of habitats, is relatively common across its range, is present in numerous protected areas, and has a total population believed to be relatively stable. It may, however, be undergoing some localised declines through hunting, including the off-take of wild animals (males) for the production of civetone, which is used as a fixing agent in the perfume industry.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:African Civet is widely distributed in Africa from Senegal and Mauritania to southern Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and southern Somalia southwards in all countries to north-eastern Namibia, north and east Botswana, and north-eastern South Africa (Ray 2013). It is present on Zanzibar Island (Pakenham 1984, Stuart and Stuart 1988) and Sao Tome I. (Dutton 1994). The species is recorded from almost sea level to altitudes of 5,000 m a.s.l. on Mt Kilimanjaro (Moreau 1944).
Countries occurrence:
Angola; Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Djibouti; Equatorial Guinea (Equatorial Guinea (mainland)); Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Liberia; Malawi; Mauritania; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):5000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is generally common. In South Africa, Amiard (2014) reported densities of 7.5–14.2 individuals/100 km²) in three game reserves located in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces, respectively; these estimates were based on camera-trapping and individual identification (using natural markings on the flanks). Using the same methods, Isaacs et al. (in press) reported slightly lower densities (4.43–8.63 individuals/100 km²) in three study sites—two conservation areas and one mosaic area made of ecotourism, hunting and livestock farms—within the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve (Limpopo). These authors hypothesised that differences in African Civet density might result from top-down regulation from large carnivores, recreational hunting, poisoning, resource provisioning or human activity.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:African Civets occupy a wide variety of habitats including secondary forest, woodland, and bush habitats, as well as aquatic environments. They are generally absent from arid regions, with the exception of riverine systems therein. They are apparently uncommon in mature interior forest habitats, but will infiltrate deep forest via logging roads, and in the forests of West and Central Africa, they thrive in degraded and deforested areas, and are regularly encountered near villages (Ray 2013). They are also found on cultivated land, for instance in Gabon (Bahaa-el-din et al. 2013) and Ethiopia (Mateos et al. 2015). African Civets are omnivorous and opportunistic foragers (Ray and Sunquist 2001, Bekele et al. 2008b, Amiard 2014), and their diet may include cereals (maize, wheat, barley) and domestic fruits (e.g., bananas, figs, olives; Bekele et al. 2008b). They are terrestrial, nocturnal and solitary, with exception of the breeding season when two or more individuals can be seen together. In Ethiopia, in the Bale Mountains National Park, one radio-tracked sub-adult male had a home range of 11.1 km² (Admasu et al. 2004), while in Wondo Genet, one adult male (0.74 km²) and one sub-adult female (0.82 km²) ranged over much smaller areas (Ayalew et al. 2013). The last two individuals moved at an average speed of 326 m/h and travelled between 1.33 and 4.24 km each night.
Generation Length (years):6

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Besides their prevalence in bushmeat markets in West and Central Africa, in particular, African Civets are economically important because of their perineal gland secretion (civet musk; Randall 1979, Bekele et al. 2008a, Wondmagegne et al. 2011), which was exploited for many centuries as a fixing agent, called 'civetone', in the perfume industry (Anonis 1997). Even though synthetic alternatives have been available for nearly 70 years, civetone remains an important export commodity in several countries, such as Ethiopia, and to a lesser extent, Niger and Senegal (Ray 1995, 2013; Abebe 2003; Ray et al. 2005).

Between 1985 and 1997, civiculture (civet cat farming) generated a total revenue of between ca US$ 150,000–835,000 per year in Africa. According to Kumera (2005 in Bekele et al. 2008b), there are over 200 registered and licensed African Civet farmers who capture African Civets in the wild and keep several thousand individuals in captivity for musk production in Ethiopia. In that country, only 2% of the civet musk produced is used nationally; the rest is exported, essentially to France (85%), for the perfume industry (Girma 1995). Small quantities of civet musk are also exported to Arabian countries for medicinal purposes and to India for use in the tobacco industry (Tamiru 1995).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats to the species. However, African Civets are commonly found for sale as bushmeat, for example in Gabon (Bahaa-el-din et al. 2013) as well as in SE Nigeria, where they are used for both food and skin (Angelici et al. 1999). They are frequently found trapped for meat in other countries, including Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, DR Congo and Central African Republic (Ray 2013). The majority of animals (generally males, because of their higher civet musk production) kept for the trade of civetone are taken from the wild, and such off-takes are likely to have localised impacts on wild populations, as well as potentially to lead to a severely female-biased sex ratio. In addition, several African Civets have been reported to die within the first three weeks of capture because of severe stress and physical assault during capture and transportation (Pugh 1998). There are also some concerns about the welfare of these animals, which are typically maintained in very small cages in order to facilitate handling during musk extraction from the perineal glands.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: They are present in numerous protected areas across their range. The population of Botswana is listed on CITES Appendix III. Detailed recommendations to ensure the sustainable use African Civets for musk production can be found in Abebe (2003).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
1. Forest -> 1.8. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Swamp
1. Forest -> 1.9. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
2. Savanna -> 2.1. Savanna - Dry
2. Savanna -> 2.2. Savanna - Moist
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
3. Shrubland -> 3.6. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Moist
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.3. Wetlands (inland) - Shrub Dominated Wetlands
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.1. Artificial/Terrestrial - Arable Land
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.3. Artificial/Terrestrial - Plantations
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.4. Artificial/Terrestrial - Rural Gardens
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.6. Artificial/Terrestrial - Subtropical/Tropical Heavily Degraded Former Forest

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

Bibliography [top]

Abebe, Y.D. 2003. Sustainable utilization of the African Civet (Civettictis civetta) in Ethiopia. In: B.W. wa Musiti (ed.), 2nd Pan-African Symposium on the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources in Africa, pp. 197-207. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and cambridge, UK.

Admasu, E., Thirgood, S.J., Bekele, A. and Laurenson, M.K. 2004. A note on the spatial ecology of African civet Civettictis civetta and common genet Genetta genetta in farmland in the Ethiopian Highlands. African Journal of Ecology 42: 160-162.

Amiard, P. 2014. Ecology of the African Civet (Civettictis civetta) in Three Different Vegetation Types of South Africa: Study of the Population Density, the Habitat Use and the Diet. Master Thesis, University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Reims, France.

Angelici, F.M., Luiselli, L., Politano, E. and Akani, G.C. 1999. Bushmen and mammal fauna: A survey of the mammals traded in bush-meat markets of local people in the rainforests of southeastern Nigeria. Anthropozoologica 30: 51-58.

Anonis, D.P. 1997. Animal notes in perfumery: civet and civet compounds. Perfumer and Flavourist 22: 44-47.

Ayalew, B., Afework, B. and Balakrishnan, M. 2013. Home range and movement patterns of African civet Civettictis civetta in Wondo Genet, Ethiopia. Small Carnivore Conservation 48: 83-86.

Bahaa-el-din, L., Henschel, P., Aba’a, R., Abernethy, K., Bohm, T., Bout, N., Coad, L., Head, J., Inoue, E., Lahm, S., Lee, M. E., Maisels, F., Rabanal, L., Starkey, M., Taylor, G., Vanthomme, A., Nakashima, Y. and Hunter, L. 2013. Notes on the distribution and status of small carnivores in Gabon. Small Carnivore Conservation 48: 19-29.

Bekele, T., Afework, B. and Balakrishnan, M. 2008a. Scent-marking by the African Civet Civettictis civetta in the Menagesha–Suba State Forest, Ethiopia. Small Carnivore Conservation 38: 29-33.

Bekele, T., Afework, B. and Balakrishnan, M. 2008b. Feeding ecology of the African Civet Civettictis civetta in the Menagesha–Suba State Forest, Ethiopia. Small Carnivore Conservation 39: 19-24.

Coetzee, C.G. 1977. Order Carnivora. Part 8. In: J. Meester and H.W. Setzer (eds), The Mammals of Africa: An Identification Manual, pp. 1-42. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Dutton, J. 1994. Introduced mammals in São Tomé and Príncipe: possible threats to biodiversity. Biodiversity and Conservation 3: 927-938.

Ellerman, J.R., Morrison-Scott, T.C.S. and Hayman, R.W. 1953. Southern African Mammals 1758 to 1951: A Reclassification. British Museum (Natural History), London, UK.

Girma, G. 1995. Musk trade and export. Proceedings of the Civet Farming, Musk Production and Trade Workshop: 45-53. Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Organisation. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (In Amharic).

Isaacs, L., Somers, M.J. and Swanepoel, L. In press. Density of African Civets in a moist mountain bushveld region of South Africa. In: E. Do Linh San, J.J. Sato, J.L. Belant and M.J. Somers (eds), Small Carnivores: Evolution, Ecology, Behaviour and Conservation. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Kingdon, J. 1997. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press, San Diego, California, USA.

Kumera, W. 2005. Better handling of African Civet for quality musk extraction. Agriculture and Rural Development Journal 2: 21-34. [In Amharic].

Mateos, E., Zerihun, G., Yosef, M. and Megersa, D. 2015. Community attitude towards African Civet Civettictis civetta conservation in eastern sub-catchment of Lake Hawassa basin, Southern Ethiopia. Discovery 27(96): 2-7.

Moreau, R.E. 1944. Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya: Some comparisons with special reference to the mammals and birds; and with a note on Mount Meru. Tanganyika Notes and Records 18: 28-68.

Pakenham, R.H.W. 1984. The Mammals of Zanzibar and Pemba islands. Printed Privately, Harpenden.

Pocock, R.I. 1915. On the feet and glands and other external characters of the Viverrinae with the description of a new genus. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1915: 131-149.

Pugh, M. 1998. Civet Farming. An Ethiopian Investigation. World Society for the Protection of Animals, London, UK.

Randall, R.M. 1979. Perineal gland marking by free-ranging African Civets, Civettictis civetta. Journal of Mammalogy 60: 622-627.

Ray, J.C. 1995. Civettictis civetta. Mammalian Species 488: 1-7.

Ray, J.C. 1995. The life in sympatry of Xenogale naso and Atilax paludinosus in a central African forest. Small Carnivore Conservation 12: 1-4.

Ray, J.C. 2013. Civettictis civetta African civet. In: J. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa. V. Carnivores, Pangolins, Equids and Rhinoceroses, pp. 255-259. Bloomsbury, London, UK.

Ray, J.C. and Sunquist, M.E. 2001. Trophic relations in a community of African rainforest carnivores. Oecologia 127: 395-408.

Ray, J.C., Hunter, L. and Zigouris, J. 2005. Setting conservation and research priorities for larger African carnivores. Wildlife Conservation Society, New York, USA.

Stuart, C. and Stuart, T. 1998. A note on the herpestids and viverrids of south-eastern Unguja (Zanzibar) Island. Small Carnivore Conservation 18: 16-17.

Tamiru, G. 1995. Civet quality control. Proceedings of the Civet Farming, Musk Production and Trade Workshop: 40-44. Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Organisation. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Wondmagegne, D., Afework, B., Balakrishnan, M. and Gurja, B. 2011. Collection of African Civet Civettictis civetta perineal gland secretion from naturally scent-marked sites. Small Carnivore Conservation 44: 14-18.

Wozencraft, W.C. 2005. Order Carnivora. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Third Edition, pp. 532-628. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Citation: Do Linh San, E., Gaubert, P., Wondmagegne, D. & Ray, J. 2015. Civettictis civetta. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T41695A45218199. . Downloaded on 17 August 2018.
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