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Paradoxurus hermaphroditus 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Viverridae

Scientific Name: Paradoxurus hermaphroditus
Species Authority: (Pallas, 1777)
Common Name(s):
English Common Palm Civet, Mentawai Palm Civet
Paradoxurus lignicolor Miller, 1903
Paradoxurus musangus (Raffles, 1821)
Paradoxurus philippinensis Jourdan, 1837
Viverra hermaphrodita Pallas, 1777
Taxonomic Notes: Many subspecies have been described (Patou et al. 2010), notably the taxon lignicolor, endemic to the Mentawai islands. This has a debated taxonomic status, being sometimes considered a separate species (e.g. Schreiber et al. 1989, Corbet and Hill 1992) or, as here, a subspecies of P. hermaphroditus (e.g. Wozencraft 2005). As this account was being finalised, Veron et al. (2015) proposed that P. hermaphroditus, as here treated, contains at least three species: P. hermaphroditus (sensu stricto) (South Asia, southern China and non-Sundaic South-east Asia), P. musanga (mainland South-east Asia, Sumatra, Java and other small Indonesian islands) and P. philippinensis (the Mentawai Islands, Borneo and the Philippines). They suspected that in the region of overlap between P. hermaphroditus (sensu stricto) and P. musanga they would be found to be separated by altitude. The morphological distinctiveness of the Mentawai taxon was confirmed; although placed as a subspecies within P. musanga, they cautioned that further investigation might find species rank more appropriate; genetic data do not, as so far looked at, support species status (A. Wilting pers. comm. 2014).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-03-03
Assessor(s): Duckworth, J.W., Timmins, R.J., Choudhury, A., Chutipong, W., Willcox, D.H.A., Mudappa, D., Rahman, H., Widmann, P., Wilting, A. & Xu, W.
Reviewer(s): Schipper, J.
Contributor(s): Custodio, C., Gonzalez, J.C., Jennings, A. & Veron, G.
Common Palm Civet is listed as Least Concern because it has a wide distribution, large populations, uses a broad range of habitats and is tolerant of extensive habitat degradation and change, and is evidently resilient to 'background' hunting levels. These attributes mean that it is unlikely to be declining at the rate required to qualify for listing even as Near Threatened. With a recent upsurge in off-take over a significant part of its range, this categorisation warrants review when better data on the effects of this off-take become available.
Previously published Red List assessments:
  • 2008 – Least Concern (LC)
  • 1996 – Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Common Palm Civet has a wide distribution in South and South-east Asia from Afghanistan in the west to Hainan and the adjacent Chinese coast in the east; it occurs widely on South-east Asian islands, but the natural pattern of occurrence there is uncertain, given the evidence of introduction by people (Patou et al. 2010, Stevens et al. 2011, Veron et al. 2015). Animals in Sulawesi and the Lesser Sundas eastwards appear to be introductions, while the Philippine archipelago might have been colonised naturally but also might stem entirely from introductions (Veron et al. 2015). Its recorded distribution in China is restricted, to Hainan, southern Guangdong (perhaps based on a trade animal), south-western Guangxi, much of Yunnan and south-western Sichuan provinces (Wang 2003, Lau et al. 2010). It occurs on the small islands of Bawean (Indonesia), Con Son (Viet Nam), Koh Samui (Thailand), Koh Yao (Thailand), and Telebon (Thailand) (Meiri 2005), and on the Philippine islands of Balabac, Busuanga, Camiguin, Culion, Leyte, Luzon, Marinduque, Mindanao, Negros, Palawan, Sangasanga, Sibuyan (specimens) and Catanduanes, Biliran, Maripipi and Panay (other indications) (Heaney et al. 1998). It is sometimes stated to have been introduced to Japan, but this reflects confusion with Masked Palm Civet Paguma larvata (S. Roy in litt. 2014).

It occurs widely at sea-level; the highest records globally are perhaps those at 2,400 m in North-east India (Choudhury 2013) and in Afghanistan at 2,500 m (Stevens et al. 2011).
Countries occurrence:
Afghanistan; Bangladesh; Bhutan; Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; China; India; Indonesia (Jawa, Kalimantan, Lesser Sunda Is. - Introduced, Maluku - Introduced, Papua - Introduced, Sulawesi - Introduced, Sumatera); Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak); Myanmar; Nepal; Pakistan; Singapore; Thailand; Viet Nam
Present - origin uncertain:
Philippines; Sri Lanka
Additional data:
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):2500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Across its wide range, Common Palm Civet is often one of the most commonly recorded species of small carnivore. Across its range it has been found commonly in degraded and anthropogenic habitats, with some records from even the most degraded small isolates amid human environments, such as Houay Nhang in Lao PDR and Hlawga in Myanmar. In North-east India and non-Sundaic South-east Asia it is common in the remote interiors of large blocks of closed evergreen forest, whereas in mainland India (certainly) and in Sundaic South-east Asia (perhaps) it is rare in in such habitat, while still common in degraded and edge habitats (Duckworth 1997, Esselstyn et al. 2004, Su Su 2005, Holden 2006, Belden et al. 2007, Mudappa et al. 2007, Roberton 2007, Than Zaw et al. 2008, Holden and Neang 2009, Wilting et al. 2010, Low 2011, Chua et al. 2012, Samejima and Semiadi 2012, Choudhury 2013, Hedges et al. 2013, Kalle et al. 2013, Nakashima et al. 2013, Coudrat et al. 2014, Gray et al. 2014, Kakati and Srikant 2014, Rode-Margono et al. 2014, Willcox et al. 2014: Table SOM3, Chutipong et al. 2014, McCarthy and Fuller 2014). In southern China where it is extensively hunted, it is mostly not common, perhaps as a result of decline (Lau et al. 2010), but these areas (Guangxi and Guangdong) also comprise the edge of its range. The recent rapid rise in production of 'civet coffee', a practice using mainly this species, and a new craze for keeping this species as a 'pet' have both presumably resulted in greatly increased off-take from the wild in Indonesia; there is no meaningful information as to the effects of these recent changes (Shepherd 2012, D’Cruze et al. 2014, Nijman et al. 2014). Civet coffee farms are also expanding rapidly in Viet Nam (D.H.A. Willcox pers. comm. 2014). Together with ongoing hunting pressure, particularly in northern South-east Asia, it is likely that the global population is in decline. Given the large areas with only minimal off-take, such declines are at present likely to be very shallow.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Common Palm Civet uses a wide range of habitats including evergreen and deciduous forest (primary and secondary), seasonally flooded Melaleuca-dominated peat swamp forest, mangroves (Bangladesh Sundarbans), monoculture plantations (such as oil palm and teak), village and urban environments (Ratnam et al. 1995, Heydon and Bulloh 1996, Duckworth 1997, Azlan 2003, Esselstyn et al. 2004, Heaney et al. 2004, Su Su 2005, Wells et al. 2005, Belden et al. 2007, Maddox et al. 2007, Mudappa et al. 2007, Roberton 2007, Khan 2008, Than Zaw et al. 2008, Holden and Neang 2009, Wilting et al. 2010, Low 2011, Chua et al. 2012, Samejima and Semiadi 2012, Choudhury 2013, Hedges et al. 2013, Kalle et al. 2013, Nakashima et al. 2013, Wahyudi and Stuebing 2013, Coudrat et al. 2014, Gray et al. 2014, Kakati and Srikant 2014, Rode-Margono et al. 2014, Chutipong et al. 2014, Nakabayashi et al. in prep., D.H.A. Willcox pers. comm. 2014). In a survey of two oil palm plantations in central Sumatra (where it was the only civet recorded), it was common even in their interior (Jennings et al. 2015). Radio-tracking studies have revealed home-ranges of up to 17 km² for males and 1.6 km² for females (Dhungle and Edge 1985, Rabinowitz 1991, Joshi et al. 1995, Grassman 1998).

This species is adapted for forest living, yet it tolerates living in areas near people: commuting along wires and pipes, sleeping in barns, drains, or roofs during the day, and coming out at night to catch rats or forage for mango, coffee, pineapples, melons, and bananas; it also eats insects and molluscs (Lekagul and McNeely 1977, Spaan et al. 2014). It is crepuscular or nocturnal (e.g., Duckworth 1997, Azlan 2005). It is partly arboreal (Payne et al. 1985) and the extent of arboreal activity perhaps varies across its range or between habitats: it is often among the most commonly photographed small carnivores by ground-level camera-traps, yet extensive camera-trapping in an oil-palm plantation in East Kalimantan did not record it at all, until camera-traps were placed up trees, when it was found to be common (Wahyudi and Stuebing 2013).
Generation Length (years):7.7
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Common Palm Civet is a large part of the general mammal harvest for eating in South-east Asia, both for subsistence but also for trade to urban luxury restaurants. It is increasingly kept as a 'pet' and kept captive for the production of civet coffee, especially in Indonesia (e.g., Shepherd 2012, Nijman et al. 2014).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Common Palm Civet is hunted (often a part of general take, using non-selective methods) for wild meat in some parts of its range, such as southern China, parts of North-east India (especially in Nagaland and hilly areas of Manipur), Lao PDR, Viet Nam, Thailand and probably throughout northern South-east Asia and widely elsewhere in its range (e.g., Lau et al. 2010, A.U. Choudhury pers. comm. 2014). Dead individuals of this species were found with local tribes during a visit to Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu and Agra, Uttar Pradesh in India between 1998 and 2003, where it is killed for its meat (Gupta 2004). Hunting in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, India, has apparently much declined (Kalle et al. 2013), and this is probably typical for India excepting the North-east. It is commonly sold in Javan, and to a lesser extent Philippine, markets for the pet trade (Nijman et al. 2014, P. Widmann pers. comm. 2014). It is also persecuted as a pest (e.g., Gupta 2004, Su Su 2005) although it seems able to tolerate very high levels of persecution (e.g. Duckworth 1997). While these pressures are certainly having localised effects on populations in highly fragmented and ‘humanised’ areas, such as Houay Nhang (Lao PDR), there is no evidence in mainland South-east Asia of them significantly reducing the population levels in large tracts of natural and semi-natural habitat, even in the heavily hunted countries of Lao PDR and Viet Nam; while in much of India it is a common urban commensal (e.g. Gupta 2004). There has been a recent great increase in numbers kept captive for the production of civet coffee, especially in Indonesia (e.g. Shepherd 2012, Nijman et al. 2014) and to a lesser extent, in the Philippines (P. Widmann pers. comm. 2014). Large numbers of live Common Palm Civets are traded internationally and when trade confiscations occur, animals are typically released close to site of confiscation. Given that some trade goes from Sundaic South-east Asia to China (e.g. Bell et al. 2004), it is highly likely that many individuals of one clade/subspecies/species (see 'Taxonomic notes') are being released within the range of another; this has the risk of hybridisation/introgression, or of competitive exclusion (depending on whether the different forms are reproductively isolated; this remains unknown).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Common Palm Civet is found within many protected areas across its range (e.g. Lao PDR – Duckworth 1997; Viet Nam – Roberton 2007, Willcox et al. 2014: Table SOM3; Cambodia – Gray et al. 2014; Myanmar – Than Zaw et al. 2008; Thailand – Chutipong et al. 2014; Singapore – Chua et al. 2012; China – Lau et al. 2010; North-east India – Choudhury 2013; Borneo – Nakabayashi et al. in prep.; Java – Rode-Margono et al. 2014). This species is listed on CITES Appendix III (India). It is protected in Malaysia (Azlan pers. comm. 2006), India (on Schedule II part II of the Wildlife Protection Act (2004)), Sichuan, China (Li et al. 2000), Myanmar (Than Zaw et al. 2008) and Bangladesh (under the Wildlife Act 2012; Hasan Rahman pers. comm. 2014), but not in Thailand (Chutipong et al. 2014). It is listed as Vulnerable on the China Red List (Wang and Xie 2004). Its adaptability to modified habitats (including towns and cities) and resilience in the face of heavy general hunting means that at present no conservation interventions are needed. However, the effects of the recent rapid rise in targeted off-take, for civet coffee and the pet trade, in parts of its range (notably Indonesia) are unknown; surveillance of trade levels and investigation of effects on wild populations are warranted (Nijman et al. 2014).

Citation: Duckworth, J.W., Timmins, R.J., Choudhury, A., Chutipong, W., Willcox, D.H.A., Mudappa, D., Rahman, H., Widmann, P., Wilting, A. & Xu, W. 2016. Paradoxurus hermaphroditus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41693A45217835. . Downloaded on 29 June 2016.
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